May 29, 2015

The Economist

There should be no more closely watched media transformation than what is playing out at The Washington Post.

It’s why one might check out the new edition of The Economist that offers a rather upbeat dissection of what’s playing out under new owner Jeff Bezos.

It concedes that there are many spots where “journalism is quite different from e-commerce: It is a lot harder to monopolize the market in ideas than to dominate the selling of books and baubles.” To wit:

The Post is in a business where competition for attention, and advertising, is far stronger than that Amazon faced when it was establishing itself. Other digital firms, including Facebook and Google, continue to disrupt the news business. Facebook is striking deals with newspapers in which it posts their articles directly on its platform in return for a cut of advertising revenues.

But the general thrust is that there’s nobody better to help navigate changes than Bezos, “one of the web’s original disrupters.”

Under Mr. Bezos there is no pressure to find emergency fixes, and no need to keep reporting financial figures, which gives Posties some comfort. What investors see as Amazon’s weakness—a chronic disregard for profits as Mr. Bezos chases growth—may be the Post’s biggest source of strength for the foreseeable future. Few newspapers can count themselves so lucky.

The Economist notes how website traffic in America has doubled under his watch, “to 51m unique visitors in April. It is promoting its journalism more assiduously on social networks, is offering readers curated content from elsewhere on the Internet, and is making its web pages load faster.”

For sure it raises questions: Is the paper less relevant now in Washington? Is an admirably cautious tone running smack dab into a world of unadulterated opinion?

But those by and large take a back seat in an upbeat analysis.

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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