Who cares about Jeff Bezos’ visit to The Washington Post?

We should care about what Jeff Bezos says to the journalists today on the second day of his visit to the newspaper he now owns.

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The story of the Post sale this summer was international news.  This web site capture is one example.
The story of the Post sale this summer was international news. This web site capture is one example.

As a journalism graduate from Howard University, I grew up reading The Washington Post as a student of the craft.

One of my professors, Bob Asher, required us to go down to the Post for an editorial planning meeting editors were deciding on stories for the next day’s edition.

My Affection for The Post

While there were other newspapers in town,  when I was at Howard in the late 1980s and early 90s,  I knew  the Washington Post WAS the standard.   Since then, other media outlets have come on the scene.  But, the Post is still highly-regarded.

So, when the news broke this summer that Jeff Bezos from Amazon was buying the newspaper,  I, like others who have been reading this paper for years, followed closely all of the developments surrounding the acquisition.

I had an opportunity to visit the Post earlier this year (in May) for an Online News Association Workshop and then was back in the nation’s capital last month for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference.

While in my hometown of Richmond, Va. for two weeks this summer,  I made a point to pick up a copy of The Post nearly every day.  Thankfully, the paper circulates at many outlets around town.

So I CARE about what Bezos is going to do to this paper.   But, do others?

Bezos’ Big Day

Today, Bezos is supposed to hold a meeting with the staff.    I’ve been following closely what’s been reported on his visit.

On Monday,  Bezos did his first real interview about the $250 million acquisition.  , Politico, a competitor for the Post, ran a piece about it.  Dylan Byers’ post didn’t provide much in terms of specifics.

The Guardian also ran a story about the Bezos visit. But, it was mostly just a re-hash of the quotes that came from the interview, the same info. upon which Byers based his post.

Bezos talks to staff/Washington Post photo
Washington Post Photojournalist Matt McClain captured this photo Tuesday of – Jeff Bezos, center, meeting with members of the newsroom staff on Tuesday.

Then, the Post on its Web site had a story about the events of Tuesday.

Thank goodness former Washington Post.com editor Jim Brady tweeted that his followers.  Even though he runs another newspaper (or shall I say “digital media”) company now,  Jim Brady was still my link to the latest on the Post.

Why You Should Care

The fact is whether you’re a reader of The Washington Post or not,  the acquisition of the Post is a story of concern to you if you’re concerned about the future of journalism.   Notice I didn’t say the future of newspapers.   That’s another discussion.

Journalism like the kind that Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the greatest investigative reporters ever, practice is in jeopardy.   Not a lot of people want to invest in a sinking ship.  But, is the ship REALLY sinking?

Some people mistakenly believe that because of the proliferation of online outlets that journalism is dead.

Nothing could be further from the truth.   But,  the newspaper platform is in a state of re-organization, re-affirmation and re-tooling.    Investors like Warren Buffet (who purchased my hometown paper The Richmond Times-Dispatch) last year and Jeff Bezos see a value in keeping these properties alive.

Thus,  there is a great deal of interest in knowing what plans Bezos and the next generation of newspaper owners have for our beloved outlets.

I care about his visit this week and if you care about journalism, you should too!

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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