“The Key to success is a willingness to forgo short-term profits while building a business into a powerful position within a market.” Such was said by Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of The Washington Post Company, as he discussed his buyer and the sale of the newspaper for $250 million to digital innovator, Jeff Bezos, Founder and Chief Executive of Amazon.com.
It is no secret that the news publishing business has changed greatly over the years. Editorial accuracy and investigative thoroughness is often pushed aside for what some call a “rush to publish” mentality in the news room as well as a desire to have a story first, not just for the reader, but due to shifting changes from the Internet and search engine traffic benefits.
Huge losses in revenues for print publications mixed with most ownerships reluctance to see the writing on the wall only make matters worse as budgets continue to shrink, competition continues to grow and companies are forced to get more strategic and analytical with their advertising dollars. The net, is surly where it’s at, if only there was a map, charting the path ahead. The Internet takes innovation; it sometimes takes risk, but it surely isn’t luck.
In a letter from Graham, he said: Our revenues had declined seven years in a row. We had innovated, and to my critical eye our innovations had been quite successful in audience and in quality, but they hadn’t made up for the revenue decline. Our answer had to be cost cuts, and we knew there was a limit to that. We were certain the paper would survive under our ownership, but we wanted it to do more than that. We wanted it to succeed.
“I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” said Jeff Bezos.
What will certainly change is the way in which the media empire uses its online presence to dominate news and generate income. The Pay-Wall or metered subscription model to read the paper will likely fade away. Currently, you can read up to 20 pieces of content per month before being presented with a paid subscription to continue reading the post online. Icons like Bezos undoubtedly know how best to properly profit from Internet traffic rather than limit a user’s ability to visit, plummeting page views and pushing readership elsewhere for their daily scoop.
Writer Lloyd Grove from Newsweek’s Daily Beast calls it a sad day, surely putting it well within his article title that the sale of The Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has “stunned the paper’s old guard”, raising the point that the family behind this 135 year old media giant “Survived Nixon but not the Internet”. In 1972, The Post’s uncovering of the Watergate scandal brought newsrooms under heavy political scrutiny from then President of the United States, Richard Nixon and his Administration which called the Post and others who ran with the story as “Hostile Media” agencies. The back and forth dispute over any factual basis for the story caused public trust of media agencies to an all-time low and the scandal eventually led to the resignation of Nixon, on August 9, 1974.
The news media has a responsibility to report the news.
If America is to have any hope of one day becoming a true democracy, its populace must be better informed. And if this is to happen, the media must do their part by providing citizens with a more balanced, carefully considered view of the issues.” said Noam Chomsky in an opinion piece for The Onion.
The un-orthodox yet innovative traits of tech icon Jeff Bezos will find a way to do just that; the only difference is he going do it while turning a hefty profit. And with his net worth near 25 billion there may not be a better man for the job.