This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

There's No Better Owner for a Newspaper Than Jeff Bezos

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Very clever. And good point. But assuming Jim Cramer doesn't want to get into the "newspaper" business, I'll vote for Bezos. Warren Buffett probably would as well.

There's a parallel to draw between Cramer's emergence as a financial media hall of famer and (AMZN - Get Report) CEO Jeff Bezos's purchase of the The Washington Post Company's (WPO) print properties, specifically The Washington Post.

If you read Cramer's Confessions of a Street Addict or a November 2012 blog post by "Downtown" Josh Brown, you might know where I'm going with this. Here's what Brown said about Cramer and TheStreet (TST):
James Cramer and invented the financial web. Invented, as in It wasn't there before they put it there ... TheStreet quickly became what I have called the Motown of the Financial Web. It all started with TheStreet and almost every great writer who's ever covered the market has been through there.

Just as we can look back and, for all intents and purposes, say Jeff Bezos "invented" e-commerce, we will, one day, remember his purchase of WAPO as the day Bezos reinvented the newspaper business -- and more broadly -- journalism on a grand scale.

Don Graham is no idiot. Recall that he and Facebook (FB - Get Report) CEO Mark Zuckerberg have mentored one another. Presumably, Graham on how to be an executive and Zuckerberg on how to bring the newspaper business into the digital age. ( I wrote about their relationship nearly one year ago in an article where I also mentioned Bezos). Graham, as of now, sits on Facebook's board. The Washington Post was one of the first publications to link up socially with Facebook. And Graham also worked closely with Bezos as Amazon put newspapers on its Kindle devices.

But, to his credit, Graham clearly knew he and his family were in over their heads with the newspaper. He said as much in WAPO's news story on the subject:
... we (want) to do more than survive. I'm not saying (Bezos buying the newspaper) guarantees success, but it gives us a greater chance of success.

This is exactly the approach brick and mortar retail refused and, amazingly, still refuses to take as renders it increasingly irrelevant. Jeff Bezos will help the folks at the Washington Post view the "newspaper" business -- and journalism -- the way brick-and-mortar retail should view "retail." The way television now views "television." These terms -- retail, newspaper, journalism, television -- mean absolutely nothing, at least from conceptual and practical standpoints. There's sentimental value and nostalgia left, but that's about it.

There's a suicidal culture of obviousness that plagues physical retail ( and many of its partners) to this day.

Brick-and-mortar retailers say Amazon is winning online, so we have to go there. And everybody has a mobile strategy, so we need one as well.

That's not to say physical retail should not be online or execute mobile; however, what trend will the brick and mortar guys follow next? The store-within-a-store concept or embarrassing Apple (AAPL - Get Report) knockoffs? To this point, that's all they've got. A whole of bunch concepts other people, particularly from tech, came up with first, implemented first and, in many cases, have come close to perfecting.

It's clear the Graham family understands this. If they're reading, they can see the nexus between my assessment of retail and the newspaper business. They came to understand that newspapers and journalism, like retail and television, cease to exist as we once knew them.

In a memo to her staff, WAPO's publisher and CEO, Katharine Weymouth, said it best:
The buyer is one of America's great innovators and most respected business leaders ...
He is a proven entrepreneur who, like the Graham family and this company, takes the long-term view in his investments ...
Jeff knows as well as anyone the opportunities that come with revolutionary technology when we understand how to make the most of it. Under his ownership, we will be able to accelerate the pace and quality of innovation.

Such a breath of fresh air.

Weymouth must be chomping at the bit to work with Bezos and follow his lead. Every dying industry as well as those that run the real risk of dying -- newspapers, physical retail and, to a lesser extent, television -- should take a cue from the decision the Graham family made. Instead of mocking it and Tweeting cynical responses, they should admire Graham and Weymouth's abilities to swallow several pints of pride and realize that they need a person like Bezos to help them execute the visioning process.

I'm not sure exactly how Jeff Bezos will reinvent The Washington Post, but I'm certain he will transform the newspaper into something unrecognizable to itself. And while he might not invent journalism like Cramer did the Financial Web, he will have transformed an entire industry with just as profound of an impact.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif. Pendola is long TST stock and holds employee stock options.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
WPO $699.00 -1.24%
AMZN $671.32 0.00%
AAPL $95.18 0.00%
FB $117.43 0.00%
TST $1.05 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,750.91 -140.25 -0.78%
S&P 500 2,063.37 -18.06 -0.87%
NASDAQ 4,763.2240 -54.37 -1.13%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs