Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, August 05, 2013

WTF? Washington Post sells newspaper to Jeff Bezos, founder of

Washington Post newspaper rack, Beautiful decayThere's been no question that Katherine Weymouth (daughter of Lally Weymouth, Katherine Graham's daughter, niece of Donald Graham), the publisher of the newspaper for about the past 5 years, is out of her depth.

But it's still a shock.

See "Jeff Bezos on Post purchase" and "Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos" from the Post.

This is a few days after the New York Times sold the Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegraph and Gazette, and related properties to John Henry, financier and Boston Red Sox managing partner, for $70 million--the Times spent $1.4 Billion on the two properties when first purchased.

Although the current management will be retained to run the newspaper. 

So the editorial page will remain pretty conservative--as far as local politics is concerned--the Metro section will continue to be anemic publishing a modicum of local news, and the Style section (the "features" section) will likely remain unfocused.

Unless Mr. Bezos is willing to invest in the news product.

cf. "OC Register Owners To Launch Daily Newspaper In Long Beach" from the Long Beach (California) Business Journal.  The Register was acquired recently by a young entrepreneur who argues that while the industry is changing, it makes sense to focus investment on the print product, which provides the bulk of a newspaper's revenues.

Upon the acquisition, more reporters were added, writing more stories, for an expanded newspaper... although I don't know if that has been rewarded with greater circulation and ad sales. 

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At 9:15 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

In terms of being overwhelmed, yes.

Perfect irony and timing, which is what reporters used to be able to do.

IN terms of a Bezos acquistion, clearing out dead wood (Weymouth and their entire managment team) is a first step.

I don't see him at all interested in local issues, although between seattle, vegas and now DC (living social. post) we might see some more real estate investments.

Plenty of gold in them hills.

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the WaPo has had a deteriorating local covergae for many years now- especially their arts reportage- which is totally askew and not run by people who seem to know the local arts scene at all. Maybe Bezos will turn it around and get better [ less transient] people in there to help out.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post needs more transient writers. First order of business is to cut the dead wood on the OpEd page. Krauthhammer, Will, etc. who have been phoning it in for years, have a predictable formula, and seem more like tenured professors.

Local news is best left to blogs, Patch, and the tabloid/rag newspapers. They all do that better anyway. WaPo is a national newspaper and should focus on synthesis of big-deal issues, not local P&Z minutiae.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the WaPo consistently dismisses local DC artists and focuses almost solely on NYC and LA which makes no sense at all. They also espouse modernism to the point of absurdity in both their architecture and art pieces and it gets tiring to not see any different opinions- and as a Native Washingtonian I couldn't care less about politics and Will & Hammer and those people. Neither of whom are from here, incidentally.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Anon2:12 -- you still need local news. It's how people learn about what's going on. Blogs etc. hardly suffice as an alternative.

Without the Current Newspapers in many of DC's neighborhoods, or the equivalent of the Gazette in PG and MoCo, there would be limited ways to find out what's going on.

I do like your point about the OpEd page. I am still amazed that the Post syndicates Neal Peirce, who writes on state and local issues, but hasn't run his column in the paper for more than one decade. That would be a lot more important to include than the bloviating by Krauthammer, Will, or Charles Lane (I want to like him, because Peter Sarsgaard played him in movie, but it's really hard. How many conservatives do we need to read on the op-ed page when we don't have any liberals at all, oh whoops, I forgot Harold Meyerson, the only one. At least I can read Kathleen Parker most of the time. But increasingly Robert Samuelson is bugging me.)

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

In many ways it would be better for Amazon, rather than Bezos, to own the paper.

Living social has a 25% chance of cracking the local ad market.

Apply that notion to the post to boost ad sales, buy from aol on the cheap, buid a few apps for the mobile market and you have a very workable business.

And the local delivery aspect is also fascinating.

Henry Blodget had a good post on how many reporters a digital post could support on current salary + no profit and it came to something like 500 reporters. Start cutting wages and you're boosting numbers.

However, again the probelm is current management which needs to be axed. Bezos is mostly buying 250 in political advertising on the cheap.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous rg said...

Boggles the mind that the Post gives space to Will, Krauthammer, etc. and leaves Peirce out. Most of the op ed columnists that the Post runs regularly have been phoning it in for years, especially Will and Krauthammer, who, politics aside, are ridiculously formulaic and boring.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

again to me personally politics do not put bread and butter on my table - art does- so local arts covergae is critical and the WaPo is derelict and deficient at best in this area. Their Travel section and Kids Page is far better than a lot of the rest of the paper, IMO. Once I knew a reporter who worked the Kids Page and she really did her homework. Plus- the WaPo was really nasty and mean to my family when doing my father's obituary- they were real jerks and snobby as hell. Of course most people who read the WaPo do not have any family here.. so I do not regard it as family friendly either..

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:09, really?! It's a company town, and politics is the primary business. No surprise that that is, and should be, the main subject of reportage.

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

disagree- strongly

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

The paper is also a local paper and needs to cover the locality. That includes culture. Especially since there is the nexus between the national and the local in arts as well.

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you Richard
DC is a major art museum and art employment center - actually the city itself has one of the largest working artist populations in North America. Politics is not the only game in this city.


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