In a sure indication that everyone feels compelled to complete a “weigh-in” piece on the Washington Post-Jeff Bezos deal, New Republic Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Hughes comes forth to tell us “What Jeff Bezos Is Thinking.” His conclusion?
“I’m guessing that Bezos understands an old truism: brands matter,” writes Hughes, who continues: “The wonder and magic of institutions like the Post or The New Republic is their history—their stories track the American story. In many cases, they have made that very history through their reporting. No owner can brush aside these powerful legacies, regardless of his or her start-up bona fides.”
Certainly not! Brushing aside such powerful legacies would be foolhardy indeed.
With “legacies” and “branding” taken care of, Hughes weighs down his weigh-in with more material that could have been plucked from the transcript of any media confab of recent years: “We read differently today than 20 years ago or even two years ago. Tablets, phones, blogs, print—we find content everywhere, but expect different things from it depending on the context. But the one constant, the one thing that matters when readers think about paying or advertisers think about buying, is the power of the brand.”
That’s what happens when one very rich publishing mogul tries to channel the thinking of another, even richer, publishing mogul: The claptrap doubles. Someone on Twitter commented:
Here’s an idea: how about we wait for Bezos to detail what he was thinking before we read an article on what Bezos was thinking
— BPLewis (@BPLewis) August 6, 2013
New Republic Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Hughes succeeds in telling us what he’s thinking about what Jeff Bezos might be thinking. Which isn’t too helpful. Perhaps New Republic Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Hughes should stick more with the publisher thing, less with the editor-in-chief thing.