Well, it might have been a better headline to say that Amazon is buying my home town paper, but it wouldn’t be true. Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post, to the tune of $250 million in cash. How many suitcases is that again?
Chris covered the basic story yesterday, but he’s not a Washingtonian, and I’m noticing lots of reactions in my Twitter feed today from people who live here and are both saddened and hopeful. I thought I’d give you a reaction from someone who lives here and has been invested in the paper for many years.
My first reaction upon seeing the story was, “I didn’t even know it was for sale.” Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. According to the Post article (and I guess they’d know), the potential sale was known to only a few.
My reactions to the news are mixed. On the one hand, I’ve been disappointed with the direction the paper has taken in a digital world. Because I consume most of my news online, I’ve tended to read The New York Times because their digital access is better. I would hope that Bezos will take the paper in new digital directions. Let’s just hope he doesn’t adopt a Kindle-only strategy.
On the other hand, while I do respect Bezos and what he’s done with Amazon, I’m not sure I like the idea of him owning “my” paper. He’s got a tech background, not a journalism background, and I’m not sure what that means for the future of the publication. The Post has always been known for its excellent reporting. I’m a journalism major, and The New York Times and The Washington Post were always spoken of in school as numbers one and two. I do hope that Bezos continues the fine tradition of reporting, while adding a solid digital strategy.
Post publisher Katharine Weymouth will remain as publisher and chief executive of the Bezos-owned Post, and executive editor Martin Baron will continue in his job. That gives me some hope that the paper won’t suffer too much. Bezos says he plans to stay in Seattle and leave the running of the paper to the current management.
We’ll see what happens. For the moment, I’m cautiously hopeful.