Jeff Bezos gave his first interview since his purchase of The Washington Post was announced to Post reporter Paul Farhi. “The product of The Post is still great,” he told Farhi. “The piece that’s missing is that it’s a challenged business. No business can continue to shrink. That can only go on for so long before irrelevancy sets in.”
He also said he’s “skeptical of any mission that has advertisers at its centerpiece” and voiced a complaint whose irony is not lost on this blogger:
“The Post is famous for its investigative journalism,” he said. “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?”
As Poynter first reported last week, Bezos will visit the Post today. He will hold a “town hall-style meeting with the entire newsroom” Wednesday, Farhi reports. A Post memo sent Aug. 30 said the meeting will take place at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.