An open letter by Washington Post columnist by Gene Weingarten called “Open Letter to Jeff Bezos” is grabbing a lot of attention on industry blogs and in social media circles in the wake of the Post‘s sale to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
It’s worth a read simply because it is an excellent illustration of just how out of touch the average journalist is to what is happening not only to the newspaper business, but to the business of “news.”
Weingarten – in a rather lofty and snarky manner – offers his “advice” on how Bezos should manage the Post.
Basically, it boils down to Bezos letting the journalists run the operations like they always have.
This, of course, ignores one important fact: That the journalists failed.
That they no longer know how to run their operations.
The journalists have brought their industry to the verge of collapse (and for all intents and purposes have already killed it).
It’s not all their fault. No doubt the newspaper business has faced many challenges in the last couple of decades, mainly from the Internet. But, so far at least, the leadership of our nation’s newspapers has failed spectacularly in trying to come up with solutions.
Weingarten had high praise for the previous owners of the Post (the Graham family), but it may have slipped his mind that the family is responsible for running the enterprise into the ground.
The Washington Post is in shambles.
How bad is it?
- Half its paid subscribers have bailed since the mid-1990s
- It is on pace to lose $60 million in 2013
- It has had several recent lay-offs, including about 50 people in February
The idea that Jeff Bezos would buy the Post to let the journalists keep running it into the ground would be quite of funny if Weingarten and his ilk weren’t so dead serious about it.
Here’s a newsflash: The newspaper of yesterday aren’t coming back. The era is over. Like all eras, it takes a long time to finally come a complete end (heck there are still people using fax machines). Newspapers will need a complete reinvention if they are to survive.
So if Jeff Bezos wants to save the newspapers, here’s my advice to him: “Don’t listen to the journalists.”
Gene Weingarten’s column “Open Letter to Jeff Bezos”
Esquire’s response to Wingarten’s column