Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bezos speaks on the Washington Post

In the september 3 issue of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos speaks for the first time about his vision of the Washington Post he is going to visit to morrow. Needless to say, the man is cautious. He admits he is not an expert of the press and has no magic bullet to cure instantly the ailing newspaper.

Still, some of his comments exhibit a lot of common sense. He stresses that the Post cannot go down the drain indefinitely. A business must, at some point thrive and grow unless it becomes irrelevant. However the digital competition for print newspapers is punishing and the paywall is fragile. As he says, when the Post publishes in print version the result of a lengthy and costly investigation, it is immediately summed up and dispatched on many free websites. For the internaut, there is no reason to buy the daily if he gets for free the main elements of the topic. And yet, one has to find funds to finance the work of the journalists. In other words, digital subscription is not the global remedy, it is part of an elusive solution.

Bezos does not explain how this dilemma can be solved and I am not sure there is an obvious solution. It is likely he is going to try and the man is patient but what will happen in five years?