DC Trawler

Can Jeff Bezos save WaPo?

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Does anybody even want him to? Besides whoever is still working at WaPo, of course.

Everybody said Bezos was nuts when he unveiled the Kindle, but barely six years later, it has completely changed the publishing industry. Can he perform the same miracle with a mediocre, fact-challenged left-wing newspaper whose best days are decades old?

Gabe Finger reports:

The Washington Post announced Monday that Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, has agreed to buy the newspaper for $250 million.

Bezos has been described by friends as a libertarian, though RealClearPolitics notes that he usually donates to Democratic candidates.

And how is this news going over with the man most people associate with WaPo? Jeff Poor reports:

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…”

“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.”

In other words, WaPo will continue to be tedious lefty dreck, but Bezos is willing to take a loss on it.

That’s what he did with the Kindle. That lost money, but he stuck with it and improved it, and finally with the Paperwhite, he’s made the perfect reading device. And more importantly, it’s the perfect device to siphon cash out of the pockets of readers, anywhere with a Whispernet connection, 24 hours a day.

The difference is that… well… this is WaPo. How will Bezos’ experience building Amazon help him turn that rickety old boat around? Is spending lots more money on the same crappy, biased reporting — the quality and tenor of which is barely distinguishable from that of dozens (hundreds?) of other news outlets — going to attract more readers?

If anybody can save them, it’s Bezos. I told the skeptics they were wrong six years ago, so I’m not going to count him out this time. I just wonder if he’s listening to Woodward, because “the values that the Post has been prominent in practicing” haven’t been selling so well…

Bezos only bought the paper itself. As for the rest of WaPo’s properties, Patrick Howley reports:

As Bezos becomes sole owner of the Washington Post newspaper, the Washington Post Co. will change its name and soldier on with a portfolio of less prestigious media properties — including Slate.com, The Root.com, and Foreign Policy…

But the Post Co. is determined to turn a profit by focusing on the hospice care industry, a source present at the company’s May 2013 shareholder meeting told The Daily Caller.

In October 2012, the Post Co. purchased a majority stake in Celtic Healthcare, which provides home health care and hospice services on the East Coast. The health care provider is reliant on funding from Medicare, and publicly encouraged lobbying efforts against Medicare cuts.

Well, there’s never a shortage of people who need end-of-life care. Especially with Obamacare kicking in. Seems fitting that a dying media company is trying to turn a profit on dying people.

In a dying country.

Update: Obama visited Amazon 6 days before founder bought WaPo. Purely a coincidence, undoubtedly.

Update: Burge.