By Matthew Rothschild on August 06, 2013

The stunning news that Jeff Bezos of Amazon has bought the mighty Washington Post for $250 million has left the journalism world spinning dizzily.

It is not only the end of an era for the Post and the Graham family that owned it.

It's the end of an era of print journalism itself.

And it was a death foretold.

Two years ago, John Nichols and Robert McChesney, in their pivotal book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, noted: "Daily newspapers are in free-fall collapse. The entire commercial news-media system is disintegrating. Wall Street and Madison Avenue are abandoning the production of journalism en masse."

And how!

This is not good for democracy. There are fewer and fewer reporters to keep track of our elected officials, and even fewer to keep track of the unelected rulers of America, the corporations that throw their weight around not only in Washington but in every statehouse across the country.

Today, newspapers have become merely the playthings of the super-rich. First it was Rubert Murdoch. Now it's Jeff Bezos. And meanwhile, the Koch Brothers are itching to get in the act.

Bezos may get bored with his new toy. But for Murdoch and the Koch Brothers, they are handy items to fool the public with.

In no case is the public interest in being served by this scavenging of the carcasses of daily newspapers.

We need public journalism, not private journalism.

And as Nichols and McChesney argue, we're going to need public support for it, too, or you can kiss your dreams of democracy goodbye.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Zimmerman Verdict Reveals Racist System of Justice.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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