Jeff Bezos did something with a rocket Tuesday morning, tweeted for the first time ever, and, more importantly for our purposes, spoke briefly on CBS This Morning about his vision for The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013.
The Washington Post part starts at around 4:30, but here’s a transcript:
Those who’ve been listening to Bezos’s Amazon talking points over the years will note that that “a lot of patience for that job” sounds familiar. He’s long stressed the importance of being patient when it comes to Amazon’s retail business. “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful,” he told the Post in 2013. “Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he said. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.” (A Post exec I spoke with the other day casually referred to readers as “customers.”)Post’s mention of surpassing The New York Times in viewers online refers to the fact that, in October, the Post had 66.9 million unique visitors, according to comScore, compared to the Times’ 65.8 million. Post employees have been quick to jump on the stat, while others (especially Times staffers) have pointed out the limits of only looking at uniques. A bit of Twitter Tuesday morning:
— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) November 24, 2015
it is, however, an easy and lazy headline for a shortsighted trade press or a Pew survey trying to get picked up widely on a slow news week
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) November 24, 2015
@MikeIsaac if we have learned anything about the Internet, it is that traffic does not equal "quality journalism."
— Jonathan Mahler (@jonathanmahler) November 24, 2015
Hmm, what's missing from this description? Ah yes: willingness to pay. https://t.co/1keEKsziS0
— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) November 24, 2015
— Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) November 24, 2015
It’s worth noting that the free/paid divide isn’t anywhere as clean as these tweets make it seem. The Post does, in fact, have a paywall online, though it’s a more generous one than the Times’. The Post has also been more aggressive about discounting than its peers. (The Post doesn’t report its digital subscription numbers publicly.) And it’s not true to say the Post “now comes automatically to millions with a [Amazon] Prime account”; Prime members can get six months of the Post online for free, but (a) members have to specifically sign up for it, and (b) they’ll have to pay after the free trial is up. Finally, remember the vast majority of those 65.8 million Times readers aren’t paying anything either; the Times has about 1 million digital subscribers, plus print subscribers who get digital free.
sooooooo cool. reusable rocket. post beats nyt on monthly UVs in oct. bezos joins twitter ;) ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/LOn7nnlaOA
— coryhaik (@coryhaik) November 24, 2015