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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 07/08/2013

 

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Amazon boss buys Washington Post

Bezos will pay for the paper, founded in 1877, out of his own pocket. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos will buy the renowned US newspaper The Washington Post, which has been making losses for years, for 250 million dollars, as the newspaper's publishers revealed in a surprise announcement on Monday. Some commentators believe the online trader will be able to breathe new life into the newspaper using a digital strategy. Others fear journalism is being reduced to the status of a junk product.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Journalism demoted to junk status

The sale of the Washington Post to Amazon boss Bezos brings just as radical a shift to the media landscape as the Springer deal in Germany did, the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments: "The Springer group sold newspapers and magazines to the Funke group for 920 million euros. And it wasn't that the publications had dwindled into insignificance. They just didn't make enough of a profit any more. So journalism becomes a junk product and a publisher turns into a digital casino. The Springer sale was a turning point for the German newspaper landscape, just as the sale of the 'Post' to Bezos is for the US. But in view of the global moves towards concentration which online companies are now making with newspapers, we must ask whether Lenin wasn't perhaps right with his theory of state monopoly capitalism: the world is ruled by a financial data online oligarchy with top connections to the secret services. We'll soon see how Jeff Bezos treats the Washington Post's 'values' when his newspaper covers Amazon." (07/08/2013)

De Morgen - Belgium

A boost for the Washington Post

Investigative journalist Bob Woodward of the Washington Post has taken a positive view of the takeover of the venerable newspaper by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. The purchase could indeed prove to be a successful model, the left-liberal daily De Morgen writes: "Many believe Bezos has the potential to save serious journalism in the US: he has plenty of money to pay expensive editing teams and it looks like he plans to deploy his powerful Amazon machine to give the (digital) Washington Post a boost. Another factor not to be overlooked is that he knows how important the newspaper is for ensuring the 'survival of a free society'. … And also the fact that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein - the two Washington Post investigative journalists who brought about Nixon's downfall - are optimistic speaks volumes. According to Bernstein the new boss combines the trumps of the past with those of the future. The code for successful quality journalism for the future hasn't been deciphered yet, but it's clear that it can only be achieved with a combination of new technology and best journalistic tradition." (07/08/2013)

El Mundo - Spain

Journalism far from dead

The sale of the Washington Post to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos highlights the opportunities for established publishing houses, the conservative daily El Mundo believes: "The fact that a successful Internet entrepreneur like Jeff Bezos has bought the legendary Washington Post for 190 million euros shows that journalism is not dead, as many have claimed. Behind this last decision by Bezos, who since Amazon's founding has accumulated a fortune of 18.9 billion euros, there are two interesting phenomena indicating that the future of text media may not be so grim after all. Firstly it counts on a new digital business model that uses the experience of online sales to compete successfully on the crisis-stricken press market. Secondly it reaffirms the enormous value of a media brand that is known for its independence, high principles and solid research." (07/08/2013)

Le Télégramme - France

Newspapers remain important for democracy

Quality newspapers remain indispensable for democracy even in the era of the Internet and online media, the regional paper Le Télégramme argues: "The sale of the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos is symbolic. The crisis has destroyed the business model of the US press, which was largely dependent on advertisement (unlike that in France). And now the giants of the digital world are taking control. Whether it be on paper, on the Internet, on tablets or on TV, the news - of course with different formats in different media - must remain sufficiently gripping to prompt people to spend money for it. Since the illusion of a free culture has survived, only a persistent bond of trust between the brand and its audience can ensure the survival of newspapers. They remain essential for democracy, and all the more so in the multimedia age when everyone writes anything and everything they want." (07/08/2013)

POLITICS

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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

West Europe must act after Roma murders

Three members of the right-wing scene were sentenced to life imprisonment and an accomplice to 13 years on Tuesday in Budapest, after being found guilty of the murders of several Roma carried out in 2008 and 2009. The daily Tages-Anzeiger calls on the West to up pressure on Eastern European politicians to act responsibly: "International foundations, the EU and Switzerland invest many millions in projects to integrate the Roma in Eastern Europe. In doing so they must cooperate with local politicians who always find a way to exclude Roma children from new kindergartens or to lay new water pipes without giving Roma settlements access. Switzerland is paying over 7 million francs for water pipes in [the northern Hungarian city of] Ózd. Roma neighbourhoods that still rely solely on wells were meant to benefit. But a project like that can't be successful when the basic requirement is lacking: the political elites in Eastern Europe aren't being forced to fight racism among their own ranks. ... As long as the Roma are viewed as a problem or a disruptive element in their home countries, aid money won't help to improve their situation either." (07/08/2013)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

West to blame for renaissance of terror

The US on Tuesday advised American citizens in Yemen to leave the country immediately owing to the risk of terrorist attacks. The West is not entirely free of blame for this renaissance of terrorism because it did nothing to sustain the Arab Spring, the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore contends: "Although Osama bin Laden and numerous leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been killed, al Qaeda keeps coming back to life and spreading like a metastasis. … Although the US has fought bloody and exhausting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and invested billions of dollars in drones and intelligence operations, it still hasn't won the war on terror. And not because of a lack of technology, but because [the West's] political answer either never came or came too late, when the end of the dictatorships [as a consequence of the Arab Spring] was only followed by improvisation." (07/08/2013)

T24 - Turkey

Kurds may fight over Kurdish state

A Kurdish conference attended by representatives from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria is planned for the end of August in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. Kurds form an important minority in all four states. Underground organisations like the PKK also want to take part. According to the liberal online daily T24, the event will mark a turning point in Kurdish history: "The Kurdish conference is a start. Perhaps there won't be any concrete results. In fact that's actually very likely. But there's no doubt that even working towards a result constitutes a crucial step. ... [The Iraqi Kurds] are trying to establish a Kurdish nation state. What will the strong faction around the [Turkish Kurdish party] BDP and the PKK suggest at the conference? Just a few days ago BDP leader Demirtaş officially stated that the idea of a Kurdish state is wrong. That's also the view of [PKK leader] Öcalan, who's been repeating it for years now. Will these two sides be at loggerheads, or will the conflict be postponed yet again?" (07/08/2013)

Telegraf - Latvia

Riga must hand over hacker - and defend him

The Latvian government approved the extradition of Latvian citizen Denis Čalkovskis to the US on Tuesday. One of three European hackers suspected of causing millions in damages worldwide with the Gozi computer virus, he will go on trial in New York. In his blog for the Russian-language newspaper Telegraf, Andrejs Savrejs sees Riga in a quandary with this move: "On the one hand the US is our friend and strategic partner. On the other we must share everything, even a hacker. … A thief must go to prison. Credit card owners can lose millions of dollars in a hacking attack. If he is guilty he deserves to be punished. The question is not where he serves his sentence - in the US or here in Latvia. … The question is: will independent Latvia defend its citizen - no matter how guilty he is? This puts the independence of Latvian politics to the test." (07/08/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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Svobodata - Bulgaria

Ognyan Minchev on Bulgaria's stony path to democracy

The political scientist Ognyan Minchev discusses in the opinion portal Svobodata why the transition to democracy was less successful in Bulgaria than in other former East Bloc countries like Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic: "The success of the transformation in Central Europe was above all due to the fact that it was led by democratic emancipation and independence movements. They branded communism as a repressive system that offended the dignity of the nation with its barbaric rule. The vision and strategies of the Central European transformation were to a large extent influenced by patriotic concerns. ... The democratic movement in Bulgaria was not an emancipation movement. ... It came about in a hurry as a liberal doctrine that received its legitimation from abroad by championing cosmopolitan arguments and integrating experiences from other democratic countries into its own value system. In the 1990s Bulgaria's emerging democracy movement invoked the values of the united, democratic Europe, with the result that its own positions remained too abstract." (07/08/2013)

Contributors - Romania

Valentin Naumescu on the worries of Europe's citizens

Fears are growing among Europe's middle classes both in the prosperous and the poorer countries of the Union, and this will influence the results of the European elections in May 2014, political scientist Valentin Naumescu writes on the blog portal Contributors: "People in the rich countries fear for the advantages they've enjoyed until now, and those from the less prosperous states are worried because they can't reach the level of the others. ... It's no coincidence that the EU constitution failed in France and the Netherlands in 2005 - countries where the middle class feels it's forfeiting its wealth and where populist, nationalist and anti-immigration parties are emerging. ... In countries with weaker economies we're seeing the growth of a populism that takes aim against the system, a general revolt against the corrupt political establishment and increasing despair at the unemployment and poverty. ... Only with an efficient Union government in Brussels will the desire of the 28 countries to live together outweigh the temptation to return once again to the old and illusory empires." (07/08/2013)

ECONOMY

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Imerisia - Greece

Athens' fight against tax dodging worthwhile

According to reports in the media the Greek Finance Ministry plans to deploy 4,000 tax investigators in the fight against tax evasion in the coming months. This is a worthwhile undertaking even if the Greek mentality makes it a difficult one, the business paper Imerisia comments approvingly: "Tax evasion is widespread, and the lack of awareness and prevailing view that avoiding taxes is a commendable action play a key role. … However with the necessary determination and a corresponding programme this measure can achieve very good results. The possibilities for increasing state revenues in this way haven't been exhausted. And if this plan is successful it will be a catalyst and have an impact on the mentality of all Greek citizens. Slowly but surely a sense of justice will prevail and provide the opportunity to ease the burden of those taxpayers who always end up picking up the tab, namely the employees and pensioners." (06/08/2013)

Polityka Online - Poland

Don't ruin Poland's banks

Hungary plans to present a law for the conversion of foreign currency loans into Hungarian forint loans at a reduced exchange rate by the end of September. Following the examples of Spain and Croatia, the law is aimed at helping private borrowers who have become trapped in a debt spiral because of adverse exchange rates in recent years. Poland must avoid following suit at all costs, the left-liberal news portal Polityka Online warns: "This would have considerable repercussions for our market. Some banks would incur drastic losses - especially those that granted a large number of loans in francs. This could even jeopardise the financial stability of certain banks. And foreign banks would certainly put Poland on their black list alongside Hungary. ... Of course this is only speculation for now, but the topic will no doubt come up again during the campaign for the parliamentary elections in 2015. The opposition has already sent out a signal to that effect. You don't even need to draw up a list of ideas on this score, because Budapest has already done the groundwork." (07/08/2013)

SOCIETY

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Politiken - Denmark

Qatar should not finance mosque in Denmark

Denmark's first mosque with a minaret is due to be opened in Copenhagen's Nørrebro district in the coming year. That's a good thing, the liberal daily Politiken writes a week before the topping-out ceremony - just too bad the mosque was financed by Qatar, which is strongly influenced by the fundamentalist Wahabi movement: "Unfortunately we're seeing a pattern in Denmark (like everywhere else in Europe), whereby mosques are being financed by dubious countries like for example Shiite Iran, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia or - as in this case - Qatar. Quite independently of their beliefs, Danish Muslims should be aware that it is decisive for their credibility and integration in Danish society that they are able to raise their own funds and be financially independent. In turn Danish society, both public and private, should contribute with all economic and legal good will to make the begging in foreign countries superfluous. The mosque in Nørrebro is welcome. Qatar is not." (07/08/2013)

The Malta Independent - Malta

Malta must help boat refugees

Malta turned away a tanker carrying 102 boat refugees from Africa on Monday, drawing fierce criticism from the European Commission, which accused Valetta of breaking international laws. Malta must finally face the problem of boat refugees, the liberal-conservative daily Malta Independent demands: "There is a need for politicians and the country at large to acknowledge that the influx is unlikely to abate. It will wax and wane, as it has done over the last eleven years. Such is the state of the global economy and the future effects of climate change that it is probably unstoppable. Malta must be prepared for this and continue to improve its ability to cope with a continuing influx. Perhaps more importantly, it should accept that a sizeable core of asylum-seekers will settle in Malta and become an integral part of the community." (07/08/2013)

SPORT

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De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Doping should be legalised

A new study on doping practices in former West Germany has the German sporting community on tenterhooks. Germany's Federal Institute for Sport Sciences released excerpts from the report on its homepage on Monday. All the uproar over the revelations is hypocritical, writes the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant, urging for doping to be legalised: "Higher, faster, further - that's the name of the game in our commercial culture, always on the lookout for the ultimate kick. … People use all kinds of means to function as well as possible. … We think swallowing pills to sink our blood pressure or cholesterol levels is clever because it reduces the risk of falling ill. We understand that musicians need to take a beta blocker before they perform to calm their nerves. Yet we condemn athletes for resorting to doping to win a competition. Where is the fundamental difference here? Both musicians and athletes use aids to ensure optimum performance. This is precisely what we expect of them. We don't need to ban it; just allow it within a controlled framework." (07/08/2013)

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