Post Purchase Promotes Prose

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post  may or may not turn out to be a good thing for journalism, but there are some encouraging signs.

Washington Post LogoIn an interview published in The Post, he called it “an important institution” and expressed optimism about its future. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he said. “This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation. There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”

Bezos also has demonstrated great respect for writing. He is known to be an avid reader and his wife is a novelist. This anecdote may help explain his interest in owning a venerable benchmark of the seemingly dying newspaper industry, as told by Post Company (soon to be renamed) Chairman Don Graham to columnist Ezra Klein: “When Jeff holds meetings are Amazon, he asks people not to use PowerPoints but to write an essay about their product or program or what the meeting is to be about. For the first 10 or 15 minutes, everyone sits and reads the essay. His point is that if you write at length, you have to think first, and he feels the quality of thought you have to do to write at length is greater than the quality of thought to put a PowerPoint together. ”

Bezos understands that writing is important. Good writing is even more important, but for some it’s just hard to do. The ideas are there, but not the prose. That’s when it pays to hire an editor.

 

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