“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he said. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”
Bezos, 49, spoke via phone from Seattle on Friday, four days before he was scheduled to visit The Post for the first time since the announcement of its purchase from The Washington Post Co. and the controlling Graham family. The sale, which shocked the news industry, is expected to close in October.
Bezos said his major contribution to the business will be in offering his “point of view” in discussions with the paper’s leadership about how the publication should evolve. He also said he provides “runway” — financial support over a lengthy period in which the management can experiment to find a profitable formula for delivering the news.
“If we figure out a new golden era at The Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at The Post,” he said. “I’ll be there with advice from a distance. If we solve that problem, I won’t deserve credit for it.”
During his visit Tuesday and Wednesday, Bezos plans to meet with Post publisher Katharine Weymouth and top managers of the paper’s business and editorial operations. He will tour the newsroom in downtown Washington and the production plant in suburban Springfield, Va.
Wednesday’s visit will be bracketed by meetings with Post journalists — first with about 20 reporters and editors in the morning and concluding with a town hall-style meeting with the entire newsroom in the afternoon. The last time Bezos encountered a roomful of the paper’s journalists was in 1999, when he was the guest of Katharine Graham, the company’s late chairman, during a luncheon interview with reporters and editors.
Based on his comments in the interview Friday, Bezos appears unlikely to make any major decisions or pronouncements during his visit or propose any immediate changes. He said he is eager to meet with and listen to managers and learn about the news organization’s operations.
The Post is the first newspaper that Bezos has owned and will be operated as a stand-alone business, independent of Amazon. Bezos intends to keep his “day job” as chairman and chief executive of Amazon and will continue living in Seattle, where the company is based.