Bob Woodward on WaPo sale: ‘This isn’t Rupert Murdoch buying The Wall Street Journal’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On Tuesday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward praised his new boss, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“It’s sad, but we’re in this survival game and I think when you look at this, the bottom line in really everything surrounding it, is good news,” Woodward said. “Jeff Bezos is one of the real innovators. He understands things in ways that other people don’t. He’s willing to put a lot of his own money on the line here. He has deep pockets. We’ve discussed about, you know, what’s the status of journalism, reporting. Do we really know what goes on? And I think anyone will tell you in the news business, we don’t dig deep enough.”

“I think this is somebody who digs deep. He gave a very interesting speech nine years ago in which he said whenever there is something that is big that’s done inefficiently, it’s an opportunity. And if there’s anything that’s done inefficiently, it’s the news business. And so we need to be shaken up. I think he will do that. I know him a little bit. He’s just an original, and so this isn’t Rupert Murdoch buying The Wall Street Journal. This is somebody who believes in the values that the Post has been prominent in practicing, and so I don’t see any downside.”

He added that the business model the Post had been using was dated and that this was the best medicine for the paper.

“I think it’s going to work, quite frankly,” he said. “We need a renaissance in reporting. The Washington Post I think spends about $100 million on its news collecting operation. Suppose somebody is now coming in and saying, let’s double, let’s triple, let’s hyper-invest which of course is the Jeff Bezos trademark at Amazon and make it better. And so, you know, I haven’t talked to him about it but I think he has an idea or will develop an idea here. You know, I don’t see the downside. Don Graham, the CEO, said yesterday, quite rightly, seven years of declining revenue, you have to do something. You know, [Tina Brown] so well, Newsweek was sold for a dollar. And the dwindling value of these media products is a reality and to have somebody come in with his experience, kind of innovative mindset — good thing. I don’t see bad in this.”

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough was skeptical of the paper’s purchase. Woodward, however, argued that Bezos could make the paper better.

“[I]f somebody’s willing to come in and it’s a matter of money and invest and tell us what’s really going on, that is a product that people will pay for and as Jeff Bezos has said, it is a product that we need, it is in the tradition of the Graham ownership of The Washington Post,” he continued. “And so I think it does get down to money. And here is the guy who’s demonstrated he’s willing not only to spend hundreds of millions of dollars but billions of dollars to innovate and to put himself in a position where he can beat the competition. We talk in the news business all the time about competition and it’s there. This is a guy who’s not afraid of it and he’s run over the completion time and time again.”

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