Will Jeff Bezos redefine the new normal for modern journalism?


There’s plenty of buzz coming from yesterday’s shocker that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is purchasing the Washington Post. Obviously, the Post website has a lot of great content and reaction from various writers regarding the sale. Politico also has a variety of content worth checking out.

Dylan Byers has an excellent round-up of the purchase, what it potentially means down the road and more. Mad props as well for the headline “Bezos adds Washington Post to cart” (note, the headline has since been changed to “Jeff Bezos re-Kindles hope at The Washington Post” — still cute, but I like the original better).

I’m looking forward to observing how the Post evolves in the coming years, after enough time has passed for Bezos to implement his ideas and strategy. The looming question concerning newspapers is profitability and how to monetize the online and mobile app presence in order to pay for the high cost of journalism.

The last great hope is that someone like Bezos, a highly successful and innovate entrepreneur, and an outsider to the industry, can instill new ideas that result in a new money making model that other newspapers or news producing organizations may possibly borrow.

The demand for straight news on all mediums remains highly uncertain, as the soon to debut cable network Al Jazeera America is likely to soon find out. Can a news producing organization by itself be profitable? Before cable television, the respective news divisions at ABC, NBC and CBS were money losers that were primarily subsidized from the revenues generated from each network’s line of soap opera programming. I think something like that almost has to happen again, in a more modern sense of course.

Sam Zell’s purchase of the Tribine Company was the textbook example on how to turn a bad situation at a newspaper into a worse one. The combination of personal greed and unrealistic expectations curbed any chance Zell had from day one. I like to believe that Bezos is Zell’s opposite. I’m more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt  (as opposed to someone like Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, who is now eying to purchase the Boston Globe).

While we don’t yet know what Bezos’ expectations are for the Post, it might help if our expectations for Bezos remain in check. Running a news producing organization, such as one as large and influential as the Post, is quite the unproven endeavor in today’s modern world of journalism.

If Bezos turns out not to be the miracle man journalism has been waiting for, I have no doubts, it won’t be due to a lack of honest effort.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *