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.


I have a problem with this

Recently, here in Washington, DC a 92 year old socialite and “Georgetown Hostess” was apparently murdered. She was found dead in her home. Tragic. The lead suspect is her 47 year old husband. The story keeps on getting front page mention in the Washington Post. This will go on for weeks…any new news will be featured prominently by local news outlets. In the meantime, there will be many other murders that will barely get any coverage.

Most of the murder victims will be black and/or poor. If we put aside the killings in the drug/crime world, we’ll still have a lot of tragic untimely deaths of innocent people. People who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. People who the victim of someone else’s rage. But the media won’t really cover this. Their deaths – and their lives won’t merit an concern.

The thing is, the vast majority of people in this area are not socialites. We don’t rub elbows with the city’s elite. We can’t really relate to them in that capacity. It’s not as if we have all met the hostess that was murdered. But the media will cover it vigorously as if her life was more important and more valuable than all the others that will be killed.

I have a problem with that.

The Gates situation dialogue is failing

Jonathan Capehart, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, had an article yesterday entitled “The Race Dialogue We Won’t Have”.  A worthy read.  Then today’s editorial page has longtime Post editor Colbert King’s great piece “The Black Man at the Door”.

The title of the first article signifies the problem with thes entire situation.   The fact that no one really is interested in looking at this clearly.  It’s all emotion.  Charges of racist cops, an uppity black professor, and how much the other side is wrong.

The second article FINALLY addresses the real problem here:  that the cops were called in the first place.  King points out how an acquaintence of his who happens to be black receives, as a member of a the Cleveland Park (a largely white affluent community in DC), emails notifiying him and everyone else on the list, the presence of black males in the neighborhood.  This is in a city that is overall over 60% black.

The problem here is, once again, not the cops involved in these stories.  The problem here is the reactions all to often that many whites have toward blacks.

Gates and some other liberal editorial writers have already decided that this was very much the case of James Crowley being a racist cop.  Or that this was an actual conspiracy to denigrate an accomplished black man.  Some have suggested that Gates is very famous and should be easily recognizable.  That’s laughable.  Before this happened, I’d say that less than 1% of America would recognize him.  In a country where people barely know who their U.S. Representative is, you’re not going to find that many people outside of the intellecutal class who know what Henry Louis Gates looks like.

That’s how some on the left would naturally think, positioning this in a way that to disagree with them makes one racist.  That shuts down the discussion right then and there.

The right is predictably in the other direction.  Many seem to be totally ignoring the indignity of having cops come to one’s one home because, very likely, you were black and having a difficult time getting in the door.  They won’t even try to understand this and other legitimate complaints African Americans have in dealing with issues like this.  Or even more, they will intentionally not try to understand.

The dialogue is off.  Viewpoints are hardened on either side.  Intentional standoff.  Blame the other side.  Don’t listen.  And we’re all worse off for it.

A man returning home from a trip, trying to get in his front door that’s jammed.  All he wants is peace and not to be insulted by being stereotyped.

A cop doing his job, responding to a police call.  Something he had to do quite often, usually for legitimate reasons and at times risking his life.

It’s time that some on the right and some on the left grew some balls and took a look at the other side for a change.

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