How Jeff Bezos is turning the Washington Post into a digitally driven publisher

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took over the Washington Post in 2013, many wondered what a tech exec’s leadership would look like at a 140-year-old newspaper.

But with a growing digital business and new practices in the newsroom, the Washington Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, talked about how the paper approaches its deep reporting during a panel at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit.

Baron said the paper talks to Bezos once every two weeks for about an hour, and one of the first things he did after buying the paper was getting the newsroom to think differently about aggregation and curation.

“One of the first things he talked to us about is, ‘Look, you do these big, narrative stories. You do these deep investigations, and then some other media outlet in 15 minutes [has] rewritten your story, and they’ve grabbed your traffic. How are you going to think about that?’ That’s a hard question to answer,” Baron said.

That conversation left Baron with the impression that Bezos’ ownership “will not allow us to do the deep, narrative stories—but that’s not what happened.”

Instead, the paper started aggregating itself with staff members looking for parts of stories they could pick out and compile into one story. The publisher has also started aggregating from other news outlets. “People are doing it to us, and we have to do it to them,” Baron said.

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