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Five reasons Jeff Bezos wants the Washington Post

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 7, 2013
Local digital content as part of $250M deal could be 'huge,' one pundit says

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, also argued that Bezos could be more interested in the content of the Post and its rich troves of archives, meaning that the printed paper itself could be shut down. The archives alone would include award-winning investigations about Watergate and other big D.C. stories from the past.

"Bezos could shut down the presses and still make money using the content creators, including reporters and editors," to create new content for use on mobile and other digital platforms, he said. "Creating valuable content is not as easy as it seems in today's blogosphere."

2. Free or low-cost Post content on the Kindle would undercut higher-priced news paywalls charged by other newspapers.
Ken Auletta, a book author and New Yorker writer on media, said on CBS This Morning that Bezos could be contemplating putting the Washington Post's content on the Kindle for free. Auletta noted that while Bezos would be taking the Post private, he still would be in a position to influence content at — and that influence could well be with the Post's international and national news, and more.

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have become successful international and national online newspapers, added Gottheil. "But their paywall is too high to make them really mass international papers," he said. "If Bezos lowers the paywall, there's an opportunity for him to become a major distributor of newspaper news."

The Post's content could cost subscribers less than the paper's rivals or be free with Amazon Prime, a subscription service.

Added Pexton: "Maybe Bezos will thinking about new kinds of paywalls or metered pay for digital. Still, the problem is that ads on mobile just don't bring in much revenue." Ad dollars derived from mobile bring in far less than ads on digital desktops or in print, he noted.

3. Bezos gets six local newspapers and related businesses in the deal, opening the door for revenues from local ads.
Local news is a big part of the $250 million deal, even though the Washington Post is seen as more of a national and international newspaper. In addition to the Post, Bezos gets the Express newspaper, the Gazette newspapers, South Maryland Newspapers, the Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.

Of note in the context of local content: Google, a major Amazon competitor, started on its "all news is local" theme in 2008 and has recently begun testing providing local news in its Google Now service.

Also of note: Investor Warren Buffet's decision last year to buy 26 local papers in 2012 could have influenced Bezos as well.


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