Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jeff Bezos and the Post Don't Know the Future of Media, But Are Preparing for It Anyway

Mashable reporting:
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post just more than a year ago, expectations of a digital renaissance for the paper became assumptions. What would one of the most visionary business minds of the Internet age do with something as stodgy and inflexible as a newspaper?
The answer, it turns out, is far less exciting than some had hoped.
There have been no grand redesigns or big-name hires — one of its stars, Ezra Klein, left the paper to start Vox.com. There have been no plans to immediately end the print edition. Instead, during a recent visit to WPNYC in a nondescript office on the west side of Manhattan, the Post gave a look at a relatively unsexy piece of internal software with the distinctly prosaic name PageBuilder.
PageBuilder does what its name implies, allowing journalists to build pages to feature content. Like Storify on steroids, it is built to pull in a wide variety of content and craft it into whatever format is desired — a content management system for the open-source era.
Digitally, the Post is competitive. Its August monthly unique visitors are up more than 50% compared to the same time last year to just under 40 million, according to comScore. That beats out rivals like The Los Angeles Times (27.3 million) and the paywalled Wall Street Journal (22.9 million), while gaining on The New York Times (49.9 million).
The growth is encouraging, but the Post is still suffering from the same fate as every other newspaper. Prakash claimed that the company brought in record digital revenue last year, but that has not been able to keep up with print declines. The paper's most recent public earnings report since Bezos bought it, in August 2013, showed an overall dip in revenue and continued losses.
...Innovation has mostly come in the way of new blogs and a breaking news team. Software developers are now embedded within the newsroom to connect the tech and editorial sides. That system has yielded a custom storytelling tool, a new blog focused on photography and The Most, which organizes the top stories online by media outlet.
...Dan Gillmor, a professor at the Arizona State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that the newspaper model is not fixable. Media companies that survive will need to change into something almost entirely different....

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