Tech billionaires are the new industrial tycoons, and like their predecessors, wealth derived from one commercial sector can be used to buy power and influence in the fourth estate. The Hearsts did it, the Knowlands did it, and so did the founders of the Washington Post, which Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos just bought. Tech magnates have invested in buying sports teams, movies, and foundations that are trying to restructure our education system, so why not newspapers?
Nothing is sacred except for money, and money's not sacred at all. To wit, Bezos could buy the Vatican if he wanted to and digitize the sale of penances worldwide.
On another note, it looks as if AOL Patch is in its death throes, with hundreds more layoffs being announced today. The Washington Post tried and failed at the hyperlocal approach several years ago, which should have been a warning to those who tried to follow.
What's going to happen to the new round of unemployed journalists?
1. They write copy for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
2. They write copy for the Amazon Foundation.
3. They get paid to ghost write blogs for celebs who write for free for the Huffington Post.
4. They get paid to ghost write "auto"biographies of tech billionaires and multimillionaires like Jeff Bezos.
5. They write promos for politicans, or they run for office themselves.