Whatever happens, we can be dead certain that he will revolutionize newsgathering and the opinion business, and set up a new culture for others to follow. But like Amazon, his strongest suit is that he will have gotten there first.
The future will definitely be a hybrid one, combining the best practices of traditional journalism with the best tools available to the digital world. Jeff Bezos has already changed the definition of what retail is; our definition of what constitutes news could use the same level of rethinking.
The news in the last couple of weeks has had endless references to two people who we have been repeatedly told are brilliant: Larry Summers and Jeff Bezos. The paeans to the genius of both men say a great deal about the quality of public debate in elite circles.
This week brought the further merging of new and traditional media when Amazon's Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. The prevailing sentiment from media observers was one of hope -- hope that someone as innovative and entrepreneurial as Bezos can save this valuable part of America's cultural infrastructure. With all the talk this week about preserving great journalism, it's also a valuable opportunity to ponder what's missing from our media landscape. If the purpose of journalism is to give people a better sense of what's happening in their world, reporting only on what's broken isn't enough. How about more on what is working? At a time when our government is deeply dysfunctional, showing how people are having a positive impact in their communities -- and how others can too -- is essential. Let's just hope Bezos succeeds in reviving his new purchase before his 10,000-year clock runs out.
Many around the world will be aware that today, August 9, is the United Nations' International Day of the World's Indigenous People, but how often do governments actually heed what the UN has to say about such people?
Money talks in Washington, not words. If Bezos wanted influence he could have used the reported $250 million he paid for the newspaper to buy one or two lobbyists.
I am excited and curious and interested in seeing how Jeff Bezos will be applying his brilliant intellect to the newly-purchased paper. It will be a wild ride, you can be sure. And we all will be reading about it.
Mr. Bezos' embrace of invention, his almost neurotic attention to detail, his patience and investment in the long view, give the Washington Post and the industry the best shot at relevancy and survival.
Both are visionary yet each takes the long view of history and industry. And it is not easy to change an entire industry. Let's be really clear on that.
Information, after all, is an infinite as book titles. If Bezos can make its navigation easy, people will come. But can he afford the labor to tap it from meager newspaper revenues? We'll see.
I've noticed a few things about Jeff over the years. He thinks things through carefully. He's not impulsive. He's not driven by ego. He develops a strong theory of the case for every new endeavor.
Just how much is CBS asking Time Warner Cable to pay them to carry their programming? Just how much does TWC already pay? TWC makes money off of monthly subscription fees. CBS makes money off of TWC for a portion of those fees, plus advertising fees.
The paper is at an important crossroads. Should The Washington Post's legacy of editorial independence, investigative journalism, outstanding writing and reporting, and service to the public become the victim of "frugality" and "customer obsessions", the paper will precipitously decline.
Rami Shamir is the author of Train to Pokipse. A former Zuccotti Park Occupier with Occupy Wall Street, he strives to set an example for a new type of author.
Maybe the deal signifies something much simpler and more hopeful for the state of American journalism: Perhaps Bezos thinks he can make money by producing and distributing consequential work.
I'm ready for folks to cry for joy that Bezos knows how to sell content. He'll know how to build pay walls, damnit! But I don't think that's his key value here. He knows how to sell and deliver unique content -- entertainment, mostly -- rather than commodity content, news.