Pamela Luecke, head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University, says that the sale of The Washington Post would warrant enormous headlines under any circumstances. Its purchase by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, however, makes the news all the more intriguing.
In an announcement that shocked the industry on Monday, Bezos purchased the Post for $250 million.
"I don't think anyone knows just what it will mean to the newspaper industry," she said. "I guess I'm optimistic. He's proven himself to be a creative thinker, a visionary. Having someone with his vision and his business acumen involved in the newspaper industry is potentially exciting."
But, she adds, other potentially exciting people have purchased newspapers, and that hasn't always ended well.
Luecke, who is the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism at W&L and former editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald, does not see this latest series of newspaper sales, which include the Boston Globe, as having a major impact on students' decisions to pursue careers in journalism.
"It's really the newspaper industry that has been especially buffeted in the last couple of years. For every newspaper job that is eliminated or under threat, there are several online news jobs that are popping up," she said. "I think journalism is way more exciting today than it was when I graduated from college. The students who go into journalism today are going to have a much different career than the one I had. There is still an intense appetite for high-quality, verified journalism. I think it's a great time to start a career in journalism."
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs