When Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos paid $250 million for the Washington Post in March 2013, the move had a lot of people scratching their heads. Up to that point, Bezos had showed great initiative in innovating the Internet retail world, but not many people understood his connection to the icons of standard media such as the Washington Post.
Some of the immediate changes Bezos made appeared to be obvious. For example, the Post’s website has been redesigned to make it more user-friendly. But there have been other changes at the Post that have been so successful that the Post has been steadily hiring new employees and looking for even more ways to expand its influence.
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Opening Up The Post To The World
One of the more bold moves that Bezos made, according to Digiday.com, is to drop the paywall on the Post to the subscribers of more than 100 newspapers around the country. Instead of forcing people to pay for a subscription to the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post, Bezos has made one subscription cover both.
While this would normally be expected to cause a decrease in revenue, it has actually helped to increase online ad revenue because of the additional exposure. Bezos is also trying to get international exposure for the Post as he tries to move the Post website into some of the larger markets of Europe.
Expanding The Contributor Platform
When Bezos introduced the ability for writers to publish books to the Amazon Kindle platform, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities for writers and readers. According to CapitalNewYork.com, Bezos is doing the same thing with the Post as he has created dozens of new blogs and has opened up the contributor requirements to include more writers. It is a level of diversity the Post had lacked and it has resulted in a tremendous growth in online traffic.
Design Is The Key
Bezos’ credentials as an Internet expert are unquestioned and it is generally accepted that Bezos knows what makes a website successful. On NiemanLab.org, Washington Post director of digital design Joey Marburger offered some insight into just how seriously Bezos takes the process of website design.
According to Marburger, Bezos wanted his design team to reimagine the Post app as a national news outlet and not just a Washington, D.C. news provider. Bezos shows a very hands-on approach to designing the new Post web presence, but he is also comfortable leaving the actual work to the experts.
In only a couple of months, Jeff Bezos has turned a struggling Washington Post into an innovative force in the digital news industry. Bezos saw what the Post could be and then pushed his staff to make those ideas into realities. The Post has been hiring new editorial staff steadily, which indicates that there is an increased need for more content from the news icon. While Jeff Bezos may not have been a newspaper expert when he bought the Washington Post, his ability to innovate in the digital age has helped the Post to become relevant and a force in the news industry again.