What Jeff Bezos now faces owning the Washington Post

So Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post.  That’s a big deal.  Literally.  A big deal for big media, for the digital economy, for news delivery, for all of us.

No one knows where this will go.  I’m predicting that Bezos will struggle.  He’ll initially be embraced by the Washington glitterati as he’ll be seen as a new, hip and vital power player. DC insiders love – and are built on power players.  But he’ll find the path to digital news publishing – in an extremely competitive Washington environment – to be a major challenge as there are a myriad of relationships between the media and members of Congress and Congressional staffers and lobbyists and top association members and political consultants and political fundraisers and military officials and business leaders and on and on and on.

The Post’s brand is tied into it’s political coverage.  It’s a national publication, but it doesn’t have major ties into the national business and financial players as the Wall Street Journal does.  Hell, it doesn’t even cover LOCAL business that well.  It doesn’t have the ties to cultural world as does the New York Times.

Bezos has to maintain (read: be willing to pay and not disrupt) that political insider connectivity that it commands.  That’s the Post’s lifeblood.  He can’t underestimate that there’s a built in power structure here in Washington that has a symbiotic relationship with the media and that BECAUSE the media landscape is changing, the Post’s ability to maintain its standing within that structure is as vital as it is to have a leader who has the vision to manage its successful transformation into the newer digital age.

Will he succeed? Time will tell.  But be prepared for some major bumps in the road.

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