WaPo can’t be Politico and shouldn’t try, says ex-Politico writer — The recent sale of WaPo to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has sparked a lot of analysis of why the newspaper’s profits have slumped. But in a piece for BuzzFeed, Steve Friess — who left Politico just last Friday after writing for Politico Pro – argues that much of that analysis has been misguided and that “if the Washington Post becomes Politico we all lose.” Friess, who was a senior reporter for the publication, is careful not to burn bridges despite what the subhead says: “A recently departed Politico reporter on why The Washington Post should steer clear of his old employer’s model.” He writes that Politico has been profitable because of their very close coverage of a niche, and that most of the profits come from Politico Pro. WaPo, on the other hand, must focus on a broader array of coverage and couldn’t make a revenue if it took to Politico’s model. Friess cited analysis from NYT’s Ross Douthat that WaPo’s “fatal sin is an alleged failure to fully embrace to internet and deploy the sort of kinetic, report-ever-bowel-movement coverage of official Washington that has turned Politico into a juggernaut.” He argues that there’s a market for both, but WaPo needs to be itself, not Politico.
Why you should read it: There’s been a lot of coverage of the WaPo sale, and Friess puts a compelling argument that goes against the grain of popular analysis of the sale.
What can Bezos do? — WaPo doesn’t get sold every day, so we’re going with another look at the sale to finish off today’s reading list. Though it doesn’t happen often, WaPo has changed hands before. And, TNR’s Todd Gitlin reports, the newest owner may “figure out not only how to get people to read journalism but how to create it somewhat afresh. Or he may take one or another low road.” Gitlin offers no solution, but says WaPo’s woes “will not be reversed if new money tries to do more of what the old money failed to do successfully–retrench and shift digital.”
Why you should read it: Gitlin offers not just insight into Bezos takeover of the paper but puts it in context with past sales and acquisitions by other tech billionaires.