Yesterday brought the news that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Obviously, the sale of one of the nation's flagships newspapers to an Internet-made billionaire has caused quite a stir.
Alec MacGillis, senior editor at the New Republic and former Washington Post reporter, is quick to disapprove. “Craigslist’s Craig Newmark has not bought the Post, thank goodness — that would be too much to bear. But Amazon's Jeff Bezos as the white knight provokes only slightly less shock and dolor. We knew the other guys had won a long time ago, but it’s another thing when they can waltz in and drop $250 million in cash for a legendary paper”
Nicco Mele at USA Today hopes that Bezos, with his experience in the fast paced world of the Internet, won’t attempt to streamline the Post for profits sake but will bring fresh ideas to save the Post and enable it to continue. “Journalism — especially the kind of investigative journalism The Post excels at — is as important as ever. The role of The Washington Post in holding power accountable, from Watergate to Top Secret America, is essential in our democracy. But if Bezos really wanted to invest in the future of journalism, he would invest in new business models that might bootstrap the next generation of news — exactly the kinds of models Amazon is actively pursuing.”
Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect is cautiously optimistic, noting that aside from fitting right in with the Post when it comes to his political viewpoints, Bezos really is a chance for the paper to try a system that works for daily newspapers in a digital age. “My prediction is that web-savvy owners like Bezos will eventually come up with a pay-wall model that sticks, as well as a fairer split of web ad income. Users of free music file-sharing services got retrained by iTunes to pay 99 cents per song. We are now spending lots of money on apps, and on Kindle books. It’s only a matter of time before the premium dailies figure out how to charge for their premium content and readers get used to paying for it, whether the platform is web or print, or a blend.”Comment on this story
At CNN, Dan Sinker wonders which Jeff Bezos it is who purchased the Post. Bezos has made headlines for raising the Apollo spacecraft engines from the bottom of the ocean, for building a $42 million clock inside a mountain and for being the CEO of Amazon. “Each one of those Jeff Bezoses would do interesting things to the Washington Post." But the most important Bezos to buy the paper would have to be the one who "found value in every part of the process. He looked at risks and embraced 'hare-brained' experiments.”
Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews