The Washington Post: An Epic Brand Story In The Making?

Bezos Buys The Wshington PostWhat happens as a result of Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post could turn out to be the story of the resurrection of the newspaper publishing industry. If it works, it will be the dawn of a new era, one that our society desperately needs.

This is the beginning of a story about a Brand re-imagined and re-invented. This is all about what they deliver and how they deliver it – with particular emphasis on how they deliver it.

We must not let journalism die. It’s almost the only form of in-depth news coverage and real analysis left (there are still some magazines that do that, but they’re dying too). It’s the only place where investigative reporting exists. It’s not perfect and it is too often laced with editorial viewpoints, but it’s the closest thing to objective depth that we have.

The “citizen journalism” that exists on the Internet is 99 percent pure crap (and I think I’m being generous). It’s unsubstantiated, fear driven, biased, ideological, I want my fifteen minutes of fame, garbage.

Most television news is a bunch of talking heads reading sound bites from a teleprompter. Where’s the depth? Oh, sorry, we have to take a commercial break – about 20 minutes worth for each 40 minutes of content.

So what does Jeff Bezos bring to the party? Plenty.

Creativity, for starters. And not just ordinary creativity; he brings the creative juices of an outsider to newspaper publishing. He’s not trapped in the prison of tradition. He’s an experimenter. He’ll try stuff that’s never been done before. Much of it will fail. That won’t bother him because some of it will stick. What sticks will become the new way that news is disseminated – and paid for.

Jeff is a long-term thinker. He’s well financed. He doesn’t have to answer to Wall Street’s relentless hunger for short-term results, double-digit growth rates, and shareholders’ insatiable demands for immediate increased wealth.

He can plan, he can execute based on his own timetable. He has the money and the mind set to be patient. How many companies can do that? I’m betting that he will do things that have never been imagined in the newspaper publishing world. 

This is an important story. It’s a story about the Washington Post’s Brand and so much more. Watch it, read about it, pay close attention to it. There will be lessons for all of us to learn. And if Jeff and his team execute well, and if enough Americans get off their dead asses and reclaim some measure of intellectual curiosity about what’s going on in the world, we will witness the rebirth of the newspaper industry. Long live the fourth estate. We desperately need its vibrancy.

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2 Responses to “The Washington Post: An Epic Brand Story In The Making?”

  1. H. Ruben August 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    I could not agree with you more. Great column.
    What’s intriguing is that Bezos took his time with Amazon and, while all the critics blasted his style for years, he had the last laugh. He’ll do the same with the Post.
    I understand the pressures that the fourth estate is feeling these days. The sale of the Boston Globe to John Henry for $70 million (NY Times paid $1.1 billion for it 20 yeas ago) shows just how fragile the newspaper business has become.
    Jeff Bezos was a surprise buyer and the Washington Post is one of the country’s revered newspapers. It will be interesting to see what new wrinkles he brings to its pages. But, we certainly may be seeing the business model of the future for an industry that’s been languishing for far too long.

  2. Dave August 14, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    You’re being too kind to the press in your “…laced with editorial viewpoints…” comment. I’d say editorials and overt agendas rule the day. And I certainly agree with your disclaimer, “…and if enough Americans get off their dead asses and reclaim some measure of intellectual curiosity about what’s going on in the world…” The real challenge for Jeff Bezos is rekindling our desire for individual liberty and an honest reporting of those who would deny it.

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