WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Can Jeff Bezos save the news business? or more specifically, the Washington Post newspaper business?
The Amazon billionaire just paid $250 million for the right to give it a try and tonight I'm thinking we all better hope he figures out a way to make it work.
Because now I know how those folks in the record industry felt when Napster showed up. You do remember Napster? Free downloaded music almost put the recording business out of business?
Well, that's exactly what's happening to newspapers. Their business model undermined by the Internet. As the Washington Posts new owner Jeff Bezos pointed out today, the Post can and does spend hundreds of hours on Pulitzer prize winning stories, only to have someone else on the web summarize then and link to them for free. And nobody can compete with free.
I'm in TV and I'll be the first to tell you there are big time stories, Investigative in-depth journalism that only big newspapers like the Post can do. And these days every time I sit down and soak up that old school print magic I wonder-- what happens if this goes away?
What if even Bezos can't figure out a way to get you and me to pay for it? Sure our friends at the Post will lose their jobs, but I'd argue all of us will lose.
A few years back I reached out to then Post publisher Donald Graham to ask for an interview on the future of the newspaper business. He politely declined, suggesting at the time there just wasn't much more to say. Tonight, for the sake of our brothers and sisters at the Washington Post and newspapers everywhere, I hope he was wrong.