What you think of the sales of the Boston Globe and Washington Post for peanuts on the dollar? How in the hell is Bezos going to make money with the WP? Does he get the rights to the very good Sousa March of the same name?
I’m unqualified when it comes to the Sousa question (there’s a March?), but we all know that Moe do so luv to offer her opinion (I do it for free, so grateful am I for the ‘ask’.)
Here’s how I see it:
It’s a changed world. Big metro dailies need to be reinvented and as for Bezos and The Post, I think he’s the guy to do it. WaPo and the Globe have been shrinking for years like so many others. They’ve lost classified, real estate, and car ads to online. The one thing that isn’t going to happen again is growth – in size, in advertising and eventually in circulation – although the Post and the NYT and WSJ continue to reign supreme in readership because they all excel in an internet proof-product – excellent substantive reporting.
So I think at least with the Post, the goal is to find a revenue stream to support that core product and not fiddle with it. Everything else has to be reinvented. And who better to do it than Bezos who literally invented how to actually make big money online. Since he’s an individual owner – which was the tradition at the Post – I trust him more than a corp looking for quarterly earnings. He’ll support it for quite a while probably.. Just like Murdock has to support the NY Post and the Moonies have to support the Washington Times (daily circulation 83,000 vs WaPo 1.4million).
Metro dailies are today’s horse and buggies. Not surprisingly though, small weekly or bi-weekly local papers are doing very well. Very very well, which is probably why Buffet just bought a bunch of ‘em. Their operating cost are low – no need for out of town bureaus for instance. Or financing investigative reporting. As long as they cover city hall, births, deaths and school pageants, they’ve got it covered. Plus advertising is pretty cheap.
I don’t know much about the Globe except that again, this is a single owner – one already invested in the community. And also, I think that sale is an example of how the NY Times by selling it is sharpening its focus on protecting its flagship paper. They’ve been selling ‘Times Group’ papers for a while.
So I think Bezos can find a way to keep up readership while developing that reliable revenue stream with paid online access. The Times and WSJ are already doing that very successfully. And MOST importantly, he’ll usher the paper into the age of the mobile device because he also understands the future.
And that’s what I think.