On-line Dildo Salesman Bezos is the News Fit to Print

Daily Newspapers a Thing of the Past Back to the Future

I knew I was a fool in 1975 when I was majoring in journalism at the University of Arizona, actually one of the country’s better undergraduate and master’s programs in journalism. A fool because even then, almost forty years ago, the writing was on the walls, or, in the headlines, or next to the obituaries —  daily newspapers, independent ones, and cities with at least two competing dailies, and communities with a slew of weeklies and bi-monthlies and alternative presses, well, those days were numbered.

Well, all that nice theory and all those lab newspaper hours under our belts, and in my case, a daily college newspaper run through student funded programs and NOT the journalism school’s doodad, well, those days were halcyon.

Today, talking to young people about the business of news, of community journalism, of the ability of a newspaper to effect massive and positive change in a community, of course, it’s Greek to them.

The ever-growing great leveler – shifting baseline disorder, or “what you don’t know we once had you can’t really miss it” disease.

It’s part of who I am as a human being – reporting in Tombstone, Arizona, on small-town politics, or for the daily college newspaper on some head football coach doing some fancy cashing in on Southwest Airlines vouchers not used by players, or for some medium-sized newspaper on my trip to Vietnam 20 years after the fall of Saigon.

The ability to make change and expose corruption and to move people to action, well, it’s gone, and the revolution will not be televised, and Change.org will not stop climate change and the Huffington Post is not the Fourth Estate.

Seems that my life has always been entwined in the losing battle – you know, journalism major coupled with marine biology major as newspapers were being bought up by Pulitzer and Gannett and reefs and turtles were being scoured by the belly of the beast Red Lobster and Star Kist.

Disease Number One — Shifting Baseline Disorder, Not in the DSM-IV

The shifting baseline syndrome is pervasive and almost to the point of being an embedded disease for Americans, and soon the rest of the world – what you never got to experience or see or realize, well, then, it never existed … or worse, never was worth fighting for because inevitably corporations win, the One Percent will always rule, and human nature is greed and war and crime and all that population explosion will soon level out and self-correct sooner or later.

It’s actually a screwed up philosophy that is largely facilitated by the consumer class and the political creeps.

So, yes, bye-bye newspapers, and bye-bye coral reefs were daily battlelines I was a part of, but also in the mix, unfortunately for me, was or is a 30 year relationship with higher education as a teacher, hence, this School Yards Fights column on a newsy blog called the Voice of Dissidents, or is it Dissidence Voiced?

I too saw in 1983 as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Texas the massive exploitation of graduate students as cash cows and free labor, and then, us, adjunct faculty, then a minority in the low thirty percent area, now, hitting close to 80 percent of all faculty across all educational lines.

So, endless attempts to get our story told, and to get the precarious nature of our very hard work as precarious, at-will, eleventh hour hires told in the mainstream media … or even the alternative press, which too has experienced a shifting baseline: from quasi-left to middle of the road to pretty basic neoliberal and consumerist right-wing.

So, the premise I always functioned under when working with Central American refugees who were products of Reagan, Carter, whomever president, products of the School of the Americas, Murder, Incorporated, Economic Hit Man USA policies, or with scientists watching sea turtles vanish and reefs collapse or the arts and humanities get attacked from all sides, that PREMISE, was around at least someone or some organ of news or literary merit catching on and finding the wherewithal and compunction to report on or publish the stories around those very compelling issues.

Lifting Education to New-Old Heights

It boils down to – the “it” being EVERYTHING those of us in this blog might be fighting for and trying to stop – it all boils down to EDUCATION. Be it media, be it schools, be it public discourse, be it publishing, be it THE PRESS, or teachers, or our collective consciousness.

But in this same time I went from undergraduate to precarious 56-year-old basically bruised, tattooed, chewed and spit out by the neo-cons, the neoliberals, the consumer-class and the wunderkinds of technology-goes-better-with-Coca Cola-and-a-million-fewer-jobs-to-be-filled, we are as dumb downed as ever, largely because news is no more, and the elites, even those leaning around my camps, have sold out. Something about Victorian-era schleps with an 18 higher average IQ than today’s schleps? Read about it — here.

Getouttahere — I thought there was the Flynn Effect, and each generation got smarter! **

Obama Makes His Rounds on Tonight Show — That is the News of the Hour, Jay Leno

Today, Trump, Jon Stewart, and the millionaires and billionaire class rule the day while some of us rue the days of the better nature of ourselves winning out.

Really, no bile burps and larger allusions spieled by the grand middle mush of the liberal variety over the continuing criminal enterprise of the Corporate Elites Taking Over EVERYTHING, now, or at least for 30 years, but prominently most recently  — The MEDIA, that is, plural for the singular PRESS and collectively journalism and tangentially the news.

Some Fourth estate now, uh, brought to us by Monsanto, Walton Family, Shell, Exxon, and the other Chosen People of the Neo-liberal-Shock Doctrine-Economic Hit-man- Zionist or Klepto -Christian variety.

Yeah, old fashioned Democracy Now, just “now” doing a piece on the sweatshop Amazon dot com, yesterday? Sure, the precipitating factor was Bezos buying up the Washington Post, on the heels of Koch Brothers and Bloomberg and what’s that Italian Political Mobster and the Mexican guy?

Berlusconi? Slim?

Telecommunications reform is all about loosening the grip of the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, and the Azcárraga family on the telecom and television/radio industries respectively.  Slim controls 70% of cell phone coverage and 80% of the fixed-line market; the PRI-centric Televisa, along with little brother TV Azteca, enjoy 97% of the country’s television audience. These heavyweights were immune to the opening of Mexico’s economy following the NAFTA agreement; the so-called “opening” of the industry means that now they will simply compete with each other for the spoils.

from Counterpunch

Sweatshop Seattle-loving Synchronicity 

Comparing Jeff Bezos with Luce or Gannett or Hearst, well, that’s our current shifting baseline disorder:

Bezos? The ever-creepy man of the mega-pixel: from my piece(s) at DVhere and here:

Here’s what he told a graduating class of underclassmen at Princeton in 2010. While on one of those middle class RV rendezvouses, the young Jeff calculated the mortality formula for smoking cigarettes, a past-time of his grandmother. He blurted out –

“At two minutes per puff, you’ve taken nine years off your life!”

Here’s what he told that rapt audience in New Jersey waiting to leave the graduate ceremony to get back to some virtual urban exploring and shopping on Amazon.com:

“I have a vivid memory of what happened, and it was not what I expected. I expected to be applauded for my cleverness and arithmetic skills. ‘Jeff, you’re so smart. You had to have made some tricky estimates, figure out the number of minutes in a year and do some division.’ That’s not what happened. Instead, my grandmother burst into tears. I sat in the backseat and did not know what to do. While my grandmother sat crying, my grandfather, who had been driving in silence, pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway. He got out of the car and came around and opened my door and waited for me to follow. Was I in trouble? My grandfather was a highly intelligent, quiet man. He had never said a harsh word to me, and maybe this was to be the first time? Or maybe he would ask that I get back in the car and apologize to my grandmother. I had no experience in this realm with my grandparents and no way to gauge what the consequences might be. We stopped beside the trailer. My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, ‘Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.’”

Who owns the Internet?

 Amazon is Obama’s Model Jobs-Killing Machine!

How that Amazon dot just effs up everything  … Effs the World of Independent Books …  Effs the World of Fair and Safe Work …  Effs Paying Taxes …  Effs that American (sic) trait (sic) of Fair (sic) Competition … Effs US Citizens with CIA Cloud-computing Deal to the Tune of $600 million …. How that little insipid Stepford  Wife-Husband Smile is Killing Us Softly, minute-by-minute, byte-by-byte, personal-information-factoid by factoid.

Jeff “I Am the Atmosphere” Bezos in an interview with the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung said: “There is one thing I’m certain about: There won’t be printed newspapers in 20 years. Maybe as luxury items in some hotels that want to offer them as an extravagant service. Printed papers won’t be normal in 20 years.”

Amazon inked a $600 million cloud-computing deal with the CIA.

Koch Industries, of course—and we’ve been talking about this for a while—interested in acquiring Tribune’s big regional titles, which include Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune_, Baltimore SunOrlando Sentinel. I mean, this is what you have these days. You have the Koch brothers. You also have Warren Buffett, right? What was it? Last year, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 28 daily newspapers for something like $344 million. This is how it operates in the United States right now. And so, then compare Jeff Bezos to the Grahams, who have owned this newspaper for decades.

Bloomberg News, one of the world’s largest news and media companies, employing 2,300—2,300 professionals in 146 bureaus around the world.

Bigger, Meaner, Leaner, Cleaner — The Great Big Lie, Orwellian 5.0

Again, we saw this coming, four decades ago … well, sort of. Never in my wildest dreams did I see the US population go deep 1984, go deeper for the big lie, and allow for all independent thought and gumption to go the way of a surveillance state molded for zombie consumerism and generational debt-ti-tude. Never.

So, we think the news will be the Internet? That the blogs will come to the rescue? That the winners like Bezos and Bloomberg will deliver the news unfettered, or, that it will be news to really care about?

Or is this a moment when finally we will see everything has gone, and that the baselines have shifted so drastically that a movement will begin to stand down the economic and cultural oppressors?

Tough, that is, when all those National Propaganda-Petroleum-Pesticide-Putrid Zionist-Uneducation Populist Radio loving folk – really, NPR is redneck, or worse:  cultured Zionism-commercialism-hipster tech-anti-labor-pro-decadence-whiny-wasted-wonton-waffling-bizarro news — believe the hubris of a Yes We Can Obama-Zuckerberg-Monsanto-Charter School-Bezos society of Ivy League elites that make the Third Reich look like small potatoes.

Again, this is not back to the good old days, because those days weren’t so good or old. The experiment that is-was-believed-to-be democracy was never to be. The experiment of a Great Society was never in the One Percent’s Cards. But at least some ruffians tried upsetting their carts, vis-a-vis the media, or THE PRESS.

So, weigh in on the Great Pretenders, those Bezos of the World, dabbling in everything, including the News. Here, again, middle road, but at least more than anything else around, Amy Goodman:

Here, on Democracy Now this week:

AMY GOODMAN: And, Dennis Johnson of Melville House, what, as a publisher—what are your feelings about Amazon? And then your thoughts about Amazon buying, or Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post?

DENNIS JOHNSON: Well, my feelings as a publisher are the same as my feelings as an American. This is a—this is a very tough company to deal with, a company that has developed a whole new model for the marketplace of ideas. I mean, something to remember that maybe contributes to what the previous two speakers are talking about is that, you know, Amazon has, since its inception, been a company that, one, has avoided tax payments, or collecting sales tax, in not only the United States but across the world, and, two—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.

DENNIS JOHNSON: Well, they are, as a retailer, required to collect sales taxes for everything sold on their website. They have not done that, since its inception. In fact, Bezos originally tried to start the company and found it in an Indian reservation, because he believed it would be a sovereign nation and he wouldn’t have to collect any taxes. He founded the company in Seattle because he felt it would do the company the least harm for sales, for having to not collect taxes in the rest of the country.

So, you know, it was kind of a sham the other day when President Obama went down to speak at the warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was a warehouse that Amazon opened only because they cut a deal with the state to not collect taxes for yet another year. They have never paid taxes in Tennessee to date, and they’re not going to for another year or two, but they promise to employ 2,000 people. Those are the jobs that Obama was celebrating. And, you know, this is a very damaging policy for a company to have, obviously. They’re also being contested in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe for similar policies.

The other thing to remember about Amazon is it’s a company that feels no pain. They’ve, as far as I can tell, never made money. Their quarterly statements are consistently sales are up—they’re astronomical numbers; they made $15.7 million last quarter alone—but their losses are up every quarter, as well. It’s a phenomenal track record, where—and, you know, in the retail market, how do you compete with that? How—in the book business, how does Barnes & Noble, how do the little indie booksellers compete with a company that can consistently lose money like that? Well, they can’t. They just can’t. So, when you see him taking over The Washington Post and you wonder is he going to be able to monetize it, is he going to make it profitable, he probably doesn’t care. That’s obviously not what it’s about. His business is to not operate as if they intend to make a profit.

Read what Johnson has to say about Obama the Great Warehouse Slave: 

From any angle, President Obama‘s decision to appear at an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee to hold it up as an exemplar is deeply disturbing. Also, bizarre.

On the one hand, in the wake of the successful Department of Justicelawsuit that rendered Amazon a government-sanctioned monopoly, a fact essentially acknowledged by judge Denise Cote in her decision, it’s unseemly to a degree that’s insulting … rather like the president’s decision in the wake of the 2008 banking scandal, precipitated largely by Goldman Sachs bankers and their ilk, to hand over his monetary policy and financial regulation to … a bunch of former Goldman Sachs bankers. Fox raids henhouse, fox should be rewarded, seems to be the Obama principle.

It’s insult added to injury to those of us in the book business, of course, and as Laura Hazard Owen points out in a report on Gigaom.com, booksellers are “furious” about the speech. And Claire Kirch reports in a Publishers Weekly story that the American Booksellers Association, the New England Independent Booksellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association have all written protest letters to the White House. “What is the thinking behind this decision?” asks the NEIBA letter, while ABA head Oren Teicher calls the president’s decision to speak in Chattanooga “woefully misguided.”

The NAIBA letter is even stronger: “We cannot believe this is your vision of job creation and the future of American middle class,” it says. “We would hope your administration would be standing with Main Street, and investigating the monopolistic practices of Amazon, rather than explicitly or tacitly endorsing those practices.” A Shelf Awareness report has some of those letters in full, and some others.

Then, McChesney, on DN:

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Bob, McChesney, why don’t we begin with you in Madison, Wisconsin? Your response to the news that has rocked the industry, that Jeff Bezos is the new owner of The Washington Post?

ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, I think what’s important is to have a structural understanding and context for this purchase, because the real story, the back story, is that the value of The Washington Post, like all other news media in this country, has plummeted in the last five or 10 years to maybe one-tenth, one-fiftieth of what it was in the late 1990s, and at this point they aren’t wise commercial investments. As the blip you had at the top of the show said, Amy, commercial journalism no longer is profitable. That’s why investors are jumping ship.

But they still have great political value, monopoly newspapers, especially The Washington Post, in the nation’s capital. It might not be a commercially viable undertaking, but it still has tremendous political power. And I think when we understand it that way, that’s the appeal of these remaining legacy monopoly newspapers, like the Chicago TribuneThe Washington PostThe Boston Globe, to wealthy people, is that it won’t make them money in the short term on that exact investment, but it gives them great political power to advance their political agenda, which, in the case of someone like Jeff Bezos, could give him a great deal of money down the road.

Check out his blog, McChesney’s, Free Press.

Washington Post reporting on Bezos the New Editor-in-Chief:

Oh, the dildo reference in the title?

On-line Dildo Salesman Bezos is the News Fit to Print.

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.

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  1. Paul Haeder said on August 11th, 2013 at 8:59am #

    Over at the limp-minded (sometimes) Alternet . . . .

    But what has not made news is Bezos’ careful activism on behalf of big business and some of the richest Americans. In 2010, a coalition of Washington state public interest groups, teachers and socially minded wealthy Americans like Hanauer and Bill Gates Sr. supported Initiative 1098, which would have established the first-ever income tax in the state. If passed, the initiative would’ve established a tax on adjusted gross income for individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and $400,000 on married couples or domestic partners. By taxing high-income Washingtonians, the initiative would also have allowed for a reduction in property taxes and the expansion of certain business tax credits.

    Yet while Nick Hanauer was a strong backer of the initiative, the Amazon tycoon spent $100,000 to defeat it. “There’s almost nothing I could have predicted with more precision than that Jeff would hate the idea,” Hanauer told the Seattle Times. The initiative went on to fail by over 30 percentage points.

    Bezos summed up his capitalist philosophy in an interview he conducted nine years earlier. “I think people should carefully reread the first part of the Declaration of Independence,” he told the interviewer. “Because I think sometimes we as a society start to get confused and think that we have a right to happiness, but if you read the Declaration of Independence, it talks about ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Nobody has a right to happiness. You should have a right to pursue it, and I think the core of that is liberty.”

    http://www.alternet.org/media/what-will-washington-post-be-under-jeff-bezos