Weekly output: Washington Post sale (x3), TWC vs. CBS, iPhone apps, lost and found phones

August is supposed to be a slow news month in D.C., but somebody forgot to remind the owners of the Washington Post about that.

8/6/2013: Bezos Brings Patient Capital to the Post; It Needs Bold, Persistent Experimentation Too, Disruptive Competition Project

My first take on the pending sale of my former employer to Jeff Bezos for $250 million looked at the possible upsides of the Amazon founder owning the business. (My second one ran here.) I find Bezos’s willingness to invest in costly ventures that may take decades to pay off, such as the private-spaceflight firm Blue Origin, heartening, but he doesn’t have much of a public record in standing up to government pressure on national-security issues.

WJLA spot on Post sale8/6/2013: Bezos’ influence on the Post, according to tech experts, ABC 7 News

WJLA’s Steve Chenevey–who interviewed me a few times at his old employer, Fox 5 News–asked me for some perspective about the Bezos sale on the Tuesday evening news. You can also see iStrategyLabs CEO Peter Corbett and 1776 co-founder Evan Burfield opine on the news in this report.

8/8/2013: The Hostage-Taking Foolishness of Retransmission Fights, Disruptive Competition Project

This unpacking of CBS’s squabble with Time Warner Cable over how much TWC should pay for the right to retransmit its local stations recycled much of my coverage of the 2010 retransmission fight between Cablevision and Fox–because the TV industry is recycling much of the stupidity of that “retrans” fight.

8/10/2013: How to bring iOS apps back to your home screen, USA Today

This explanation of how iPhone or iPad apps can appear to disappear almost needed a correction. But on Saturday I realized that a passing reference to how many apps you can put in a folder was incorrect (in fact, the limit varies by device), I e-mailed my editor to suggest we drop that detail, and she promptly fixed the piece. In other news, my editor is kind of awesome.

On Sulia, I complimented how everyone involved with the Post sale was able to keep a lid on the news beforehand, cast a little scorn on one story of many to suggest that Bezos’s involvement might finally allow the Post to put in place some obvious upgrades, and reported on my initial experiences with Twitter’s new login verification and Google’s Android Device Manager find-my-phone service.

Report: Journalism not completely doomed

I spent four days in San Francisco with a crowd of journalists, and this meeting did not require the services of psychoanalysts or grief counselors.

This was my first trip to the Online News Association’s annual conference, and I’m glad I went. (I joined ONA in 2009, didn’t think to go to the 2009 event in San Francisco, blew off the 2010 conference even though it was right in D.C. and I should have been busy networking then, and wistfully read tweets from the 2011 gathering in Boston.) Three reasons stand out.

One was the chance to re-connect with old friends from the Post and newer acquaintances that, until then, I had known mainly as Twitter handles and e-mail addresses. As a full-time freelancer who works from the same desk at home almost every day, renewing those bonds means a lot. (And I won’t mind if some of these conversations yield future business.)

Another was why I’d go to any gathering of interesting people engaged in the same work: learning from those more informed, intelligent, experienced or connected than me. The lineup of panels and ONA’s awards ceremony reminded me of how much creativity goes into telling the truth to strangers, and how much of this we’re still figuring out.

ONA speakers shared such practical advice as the importance of a good business-card design if you freelance; different ways to clean up the mess when you tweet out an error; effective tools for mobile reporting; and reminders that story comments aren’t all bad (“my commenters were my mentors” said Twitter’s Mark Luckie of his early blogging). And some committed actual news: In an onstage interview, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said we’d be able to download all of our tweets “before the end of the year”–although he then walked that back slightly by noting his engineers’ reluctance to get so specific.

But the thing about ONA that sticks most in my mind is its absence of pessimism. This could have been a consequence of going to a deliberately post-print organization’s conference, but it was still heartening to see that much enthusiasm for the bold, persistent experimentation this industry needs, both on an individual and organizational level. To steal a line from Lauren Orsini‘s account of how she had wormed her way into writing about online communities through freelance work: “What do you when the job you really, really want does not exist? You make that job.”

Is that foolish optimism? Maybe, but not nearly as crazy as a 20-year-old guy thinking that a part-time newsroom job sorting mail and answering phones could ever lead to a front-page byline.