The Post remained profitable into the 21st century but a number of tidal changes gnawed at their durable competitive advantage.
It is an irony that The Washington Post, which decimated its book section presumably for purposes of cost-cutting, has now been bought by Jeffrey Bezos, the pioneer entrepreneur who might have sold more books than any person in history through the company he founded.
The newest generation of consumers has blown traditional marketing to smithereens. According to PR expert Stefan Pollack in his book Disrupted, the "iGen" generation are those born after 1994 and have never known life without computers and mobile devices.
Bracknell, currently in the third grade at Don LaFontaine Elementary, was vague about his plans for the venerable publication, noting only that he would replace the editorial page with "stuff" and immediately "increase dinosaur coverage."
If the billionaires can save newspapers by buying them and nudging them in the digital direction, more power to them. If they can write the checks that will send reporters to Damascus, Detroit and into the halls of Congress and the state legislatures, bless 'em.
What makes the move particularly disturbing is not simply that loyal, long-term staffers were abruptly stripped of their benefit package and banished to an economic wilderness, but that this sort of thing is no longer rare enough to be shocking.
The newspaper industry might have dodged the 8 ball if they had skipped the salons where they talk to each other and instead realized that they are a service industry (yes, like a lawn service or even cable news) and thus evolved to meet the needs of their customers.
Although the Internet may have destroyed the newspaper's old business model, we can use it to create a new decentralized system that may generate an even more vibrant marketplace of ideas for the twenty-first century.
As the Post changed hands to a computer king, its ink-stained wretches, past and present, shed a virtual tear. Although I never worked in its newsroom, one of those ink-stained wretches was me.
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.
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.
Innovative storytelling, audience engagement, and financial flexibility are key ingredients for newspapers to cope with pressures from competitors, bu...
How often does your phone automatically correct your words? How often has a coherent sentence become one of absolute gibberish or at least one that ...
I've always loved my local paper, the Allentown Morning Call. After all, where else am I going to see who has died that I ...
If Republicans belong to a party hell-bent on committing suicide, one would think that newspapers, as part of a business supposedly committed to serving the public, might be a little smarter. Yet their static minority hiring data, year after year, shows no signs of that.
Unfortunately, student press in high schools today is on the decline because schools are now teaching to the test even though we have an explosion of citizen journalism on the web. Shouldn't we be training students how to write for the web and about the ethics of the press?