Bezos Buys Washington Post: Why It's Big News for IT

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-08-06 Print this article Print

An immediate example came to the fore Aug. 5. QuinStreet editor and colleague Paul Shread astutely noted that in five pages of Post coverage of the sale in its Aug. 6 print edition, there was only scant mention (one sentence) about Amazon's warehouse working conditions. Those conditions have been criticized by employees in the past as being unbearable in hot weather, because no air conditioning was available.

For the record, Bezos told Amazon's annual shareholders meeting last year that the company would be spending $52 million to retrofit its warehouses with air conditioners. There was no mention in the sale story Aug. 5 as to whether that has yet taken place.

By the way, Bezos' announcement came a full eight months after a report in The Morning Call, a Pennsylvania newspaper, which detailed working conditions at an Amazon warehouse in Lehigh Valley. At that facility, according to the report, employees worked in sweltering temperatures in the summer and sometimes had to be removed on stretchers or in wheelchairs.

Is that a story the Washington Post will cover fairly in the future?  This remains to be seen.

IT Leaders Now Showing Influence Elsewhere in the World

Impact No. 3: This is not just about the sale of a longtime business owned by one family -- the Grahams, who owned the Post for more than 40 years -- to another businessman. This is also the latest indicator that IT business leadership is now truly making a significant impact on the rest of the world. A lot of folks who made their fortunes in the IT business are now paying back some of their wealth into various communities, and this is a welcome trend.

Take into account, for example, the billions of dollars the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- the roots of which are tied to Microsoft's longtime success -- have given to educations and many other worthy causes over the last decade.

Marc Benioff, CEO and founder of Salesforce, wrote a multimillion-dollar check a couple of years ago that started a new, state-of-the-art children's hospital being built for the University of California, San Francisco. It will be completed in 2015.

Larry Ellison, CEO and co-founder of Oracle Corp., personally has helped rebuild several local schools in Silicon Valley, has been a champion of the America's Cup organization, and helps numerous other organizations on an anonymous basis, we're told.

Leading by Example

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and the man most responsible for the Internet browser as we know it today, has given millions to hospitals and other non-profits.

These are just a few top-of-mind individuals and their projects who lead by example. For every one mentioned here, thousands of other IT-business individuals are helping channel their efforts into worthy causes of all types.

Let's hope that Mr. Bezos considers the Washington Post a worthy community attribute in addition to a viable news-gathering business, and not simply another ribbon to add to his "Captains of IT Industry" dress uniform.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


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