In mid-August, former Washington Post business columnist Allan Sloan wrote for Fortune that it’s time for new Post owner Jeff Bezos to discuss his politics. In Tuesday's Post, media reporter Paul Farhi conducted the first interview with the new boss -- and there's no mention of his politics, not even a question declined.
Is he a libertarian? Is he a promoter of "gay marriage"? There's no clue, and no wondering out loud. Instead, we get a pep talk for the news room, and pandering to the employees:
“If we figure out a new golden era at The Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at The Post,” Bezos said. "We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
Inside the newspaper world, everyone's most panicked about finding a new model to make a profit -- and few in the national media consider whether their incessant liberal bias hurts profits. Here's what the media world will focus on today:
Bezos suggested that the current model for newspapers in the Internet era is deeply flawed: “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?”
Although he said he reads The Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal regularly, Bezos didn’t grow up immersed in newspapers or dreaming of being involved with one. His “love affair,” he said, has always been with “the printed word in all its forms.”
The Internet and Amazon’s launch of the Kindle e-reader convinced him that the printed word doesn’t have to be on paper. “The key thing about a book is that you lose yourself in the author’s world,” Bezos said. “Great writers create an alternative world. It doesn’t matter if you enter that world” via a digital or printed source.
When it comes to creating an alternative world, the Post often seems to succeed at that – a world where Barack Obama is the most competent and honest president ever to hold the job.