Since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for a cool $250m in cash, I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking – dangerous I know.
As the Internet has gone from strength to strength over the years, news websites, blogs and social media have done likewise. So much information is now readily available online, free and published faster than newspapers and magazines could ever hope to compete with.
The publishing industry, in general, has struggled to deal with this on a global scale. Every publication and publishing company I know of has been impacted negatively. People have lost their jobs, editorial teams have been streamlined, salaries have been frozen, publications have folded and, basically, the quality of news services has suffered.
The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of those working in management within publishing companies had no idea how to deal with the Internet. They were clueless, shutting their eyes closed tightly and sticking their fingers in their ears while shouting "la la la la la la, I’m not listening", in the hope that it would just go away. Of course, it never was.
They feared this new entity – this new fangled thing they call the Internet. How could they ever possibly compete? And here lies the real problem. They saw it as competition when they should have seen it for what it really was all along – an opportunity.
Jeff Bezos is someone who understands what the Internet is all about. If anyone can see it as an opportunity, it’s got to be a guy who’s made billions of dollars from it. He’s openly admitted he knows nothing about news or publishing, so the Washington Post news team will be staying put, for now at least.
But if he can perhaps lead the way in altering the attitude of those working in managerial positions at publishing companies, I for one will be grateful. If the publishing industry and news services can improve as a result, I’m sure people all over the world will be grateful too.