Below is an edited excerpt of a conversation on Narisetti’s thoughts on the sale of The Washington Post and what is to come for the news industry.
The deals shows that while there is clearly no room for sentimentalism in the U.S. newspaper business, there is plenty of room and hope for sentimental capitalism.
I have been a fan of Don Graham, as almost anyone who has worked for him tends to be, since the time I first met him and over my three years as managing editor of The Washington Post. I can only imagine how difficult---yet right--this decision was for him and I admire him for doing this now than waiting for more than the seven years of losses he has very gracefully endured.
If it is a matter of spending a lot of time, energy and resources in trying to keep fixing The Washington Post newspaper or growing the Washington Post Company, Don, as the steward of a publicly held company, has clearly done right by shareholders and his family (who are big shareholders) and he should be applauded for putting reason ahead of romanticism.
Meanwhile, even the most benevolent billionaires don't spend $250 million of their personal wealth to preserve the status-quo. So, while it makes the utmost sense for a new owner--especially one without prior personal experience in media--to not add to the tumult of a sudden and emotional change in ownership by also imposing big management changes, one hopes Jeff's personal as well as Amazon's insights and expertise will enable The Post to operate its digital assets in a much more aggressive and risk-taking way than it is sometimes possible in a legacy family owned and run news operation.
For example, persistent myths that the size of a newsroom automatically equates quality and efficiency, can lead to very different conclusions if freed from the conventional legacy thinking and seen through a new lens. The Post, like many major news brands, has never had more total readership for its journalism in its history than it does now, so its problems are problems of business models and execution than the need to fundamentally rethink its journalistic offerings.
And Jeff has consistently shown he can dream macro and execute micro, both of which The Post could use and benefit from.