Mackenzie and Jeff Bezos
By now most of you have heard that the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, purchased The Washington Post with his own personal money, $250 million to be exact. He is worth $22 billion according to Bloomberg business press. At 49, Bezos is also politically active, a libertarian who supports gay marriage.
I have been in discussions with the tech writers at The Washington Post recently. I was trying to get them to write about the kind of land mobile radios that first responders like EMS, fire, and police need to properly do their jobs. It wasn’t an easy pitch, so I was on the phone with a few reporters over many recent weeks.
No one told me that Bezos was in negotiations to buy the newspaper, but the usual eager-beaver “scoop” reporters were just not their usual energetic selves. They now claim they didn’t know that anything was going on at the time, but their dispositions have changed in the past few days.
They are now acting like they have something to prove. If they write a startling story about a certain topic, they may get noticed for breaking news. All of a sudden, I am important. I knew that my news was worthy of page one, but I couldn’t get them to focus. Now I am getting calls several times a day requesting further information or additional contacts.
If and when the story gets picked up, I will let you know. It’s an interesting one that should have been told a long time ago. Of course, bureaucracy kept it on the back burner. Hopefully, that all will be history soon.
Meanwhile, I truly believe Bezos bought The Washington Post because he understands that he needs content for his current and future businesses. There is lots of other speculation going around, like maybe his political aspirations, but I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
I do think that the editorial staff at The Washington Post will see changes over the next year or two. Those changes will help them survive and then prosper. There is nothing to fear. The changes Bezos will make will not have anything to do with the stories the reporters write, but rather the way they are delivered.
The fast pace of the Internet will dictate the changes, and if I were a journalist today I would be thrilled to be a part of his regime rather than work for a publisher who refuses to change with the times.
Here are some of the ways I think newspapers will change.
1) No more print. The Washington Post folks better get used to it. Print is a waste of money and everyone should read everything electronically. Those who are balking now will love the performance of digital once they give it a chance.
2) Layouts will not look like the newspaper of today. Stories will appear in capsule forms. If you want more information, you just click for additional coverage.
3) Every story will have suggestions and cross references to similar or related articles.
4) The newspaper will alert you to the most popular stories, which ones were the most emailed and posted on Twitter and Facebook, and suggested articles based on your previous preferences.
5) Articles will be much more current. New ones will appear every half hour if not sooner.
6) Relevant stories will be pushed out to you via email or alerts. You will check off what topics you want to know about firsthand.
7) Readers will contribute to the news and feature pages with any pertinent information they are privy to, much like a Twitter feed.
8) Readers will be able to access all the former stories that were previously written on the same topic. This will serve as a great reference. No one is left in the dark.
I will let Bezos surprise you with the rest. I gave you my best guesses