Paul Fahri’s article on Jeffrey Bezos’ visit to the Post newsroom,http://tinyurl.com/prg36rg, has this interesting quotation "But 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?’" Dylan Byers picked up exactly the same quote for his article about Fahri’s interview with Bezos in Politico, http://tinyurl.com/mzycxy2.
There are two possible implications of Bezos’ description of the Post’s problem, and it’s hard to tell what Bezos thinks the solution is to the problem he describes. Does he think that the Post’s investigative journalism can somehow be protected, guarded from other people’s commentary on it? Can the pay walls be set so high? Do we need to go back a decade to the fights over whether a newspaper can prevent other sites from linking to its stories, or at least from linking directly to a story, bypassing its front page? I think that argument has been settled, and it has been determined that the Internet adds value to information by its ability to link to stories and comment on them, to spread the information widely.
But if Bezos doesn’t think that the Washington Post can prevent its reporting from being reported on by others, how does he think he can make money from it? A commentator on the Politico article above has a good idea that only a company like Amazon could make happen. RJS1960 suggests, "The reality is that ‘news’ is only ‘news’ for a hot second. Bezos needs to create a Washington Post channel on Amazon Prime." In other words, make money on it by giving it away for free. Create a partnership between Bezos’ two companies, the Post and Amazon. Pay Amazon for free delivery of items that you buy from it, and get free access to its online videos and a free digital subscription to the Post. It’s counterintuitive, but it could work.
Statehood and the 50th Anniversary March
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