Vanity business commentary? Jack Shafer disregards the entire history of publishing and media and suggests that it is a recent phenomenon that rich people buy media properties. I don’ have the time or desire to bring Shafer up to speed on the development of media-related commerce since sanskrit, but it appears he would be surprised to learn that the capital (either start-up or operating) to support the efforts of editors and writers and designers (or most any market-driven enterprise) typically has come from rich people (or royalty) looking for ways to put their money to work…or for purposes of legacy, philanthropy, advocacy or (and?) outrageous ego.
What possesses such wealthy gentlemen as Anschutz, Wasserstein, Hertog, Steinhardt, and all the rest—David Bradley (National Journal, Atlantic Monthly), Bill Gates(Slate), convicted felon Rev. Sun Myung Moon (Washington Times, Insight, World & I, UPI), Richard Mellon Scaife (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), Paul Newman (The Nation),Leonard Stern (former owner of the Village Voice chain of alt-weeklies), Harvey Weinstein (Talk), John Warnock (Salon), Arthur L. Carter (New York Observer, one-time owner of The Nation), Adam Hochschild (Mother Jones), John F. Kennedy Jr.(George)—who’ve made their money in bird seed, software, consulting, Hollywood, Wall Street, real estate, inheritance, banking, religion, and other enterprises to stray from their ultra-profitable fields into ours?
Talk about straying from ones field? Shafer should stick to his (media criticism) and forego the investment beat as the experience of the past two decades (with some very notable exceptions) suggests that many of the types of media investments Shafer describes as vain have generated massive returns.