In his first interview since purchasing the Washington Post for $250 million in cash, billionaire Jeff Bezos admits he still doesn’t have a concrete plan for revolutionizing the business of news.
He did, however, offer up some interesting insight.
“If we figure out a new golden era at The Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at The Post,” Bezos told the Washington Post. “I’ll be there with advice from a distance. If we solve that problem, I won’t deserve credit for it.”
The “new golden era” at he Post that Bezos is referring to will come after employing some of the same three principles that made his other venture Amazon such a huge success, which include putting the customer first, continuously inventing, and being patient.
But perhaps the most notable thing he said about the business model of the Post was more of an assessment for what’s currently happening, and what needs to happen in order to make the publication profitable:
“The Post is famous for its investigative journalism. It pours energy and investment and sweat and dollars into uncovering important stories. And then a bunch of Web sites summarize that [work] in about four minutes and readers can access that news for free. One question is, how do you make a living in that kind of environment? If you can’t, it’s difficult to put the right resources behind it. . . . Even behind a paywall [digital subscription], Web sites can summarize your work and make it available for free. From a reader point of view, the reader has to ask, ‘Why should I pay you for all that journalistic effort when I can get it for free’ from another site?”
Regardless of what the Washington Post does to advance its business model, it’s certain that everyone in the industry will be watching closely.