I worked in the newspaper industry for five years from 1995 to 2000. I started the online newspaper New Jersey Online for Advance Internet which went on to use our blueprint to build an additional 10 online entities across the U.S. (Note, I am not responsible for the design of the current website.)
I was hired by Jeff Jarvis who knows more about the business of newspapers and online newspapers that anyone in the industry. So, when I heard about Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post, I immediately headed over to Jeff’s well-read blog, “Buzz Machine.” While Jeff hasn’t really weighed in in-depth yet, he will and I am going to follow his evolving views on this purchase. As you can see from his “Hot Off The Presses” blog post, he is “hopeful.” I am too. As an early internet publisher, I watched Bezos build Amazon starting in 1995. It was a very exciting time to watch this visionary.
I think that newspapers which have been run by ossified old white men who couldn’t get out of the way of Craigslist and all the other revenue killers, can now sit on the sidelines and watch a real leader move paper-based and online newspapers to the next level.
This will be good for the advertising industry as well.
I think that paper newspapers will be around for the next few years (my bet not much more than an additional ten.) They will continue to play a big role in our local news ecosystem as they have always provided a powerful daily platform for local advertising which online advertising hasn’t yet replaced. Many have pointed out that the Amazon machine has hastened the demise of the local retailer. That may be true. But, local retail has also been hurt by the slow death of local advertising options. Bezos may just be the guy to reverse that trend.
For another take on the Post, head over to Jason Calacanis’ piece, “Why Jeff Bezos Bought The Washing Post Six-Theories.” .