Why Jeff Bezos Is 'Very Optimistic' About The Washington Post

The Post Is No Longer a Local Paper

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Business Insider CEO, left, interviews Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, right.
Business Insider CEO, left, interviews Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, right.

When Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in August 2013, the media world couldn't understand it. Why would the founder and CEO of Amazon -- arguably one of the most forward-looking, disruptive companies in the world -- buy a print newspaper?

On Tuesday, Mr. Bezos, speaking at Business Insider's Ignition 2014 conference, shed a modicum of light on his decision, saying the Post is an important institution with a business case that isn't hopeless.

"I'm very optimistic about the future" of the Post, he told Henry Blodget, editor and CEO of Business Insider.

The reason is changes in online readership, Mr. Bezos said. More people are reading the Post digitally, he said. And the paper -- which for decades proudly emphasized its local reporting, even more so as a swarm of national publications arose online -- is again expanding its footprint nationwide and even globally to better compete on the most important stories.

"Even though it had a national and global reputation, the product was local and that was by design," Mr. Bezos said. "For a time, it was a good strategy, and as a business it was super successful for decades, but that is what we're changing."

The Post has the "good fortune" of being the newspaper of America's capital city, he added. "That's a good starting point to be a national and even global publication," Mr. Bezos said.

That doesn't mean the Post is abandoning covering live in D.C. itself. It will "continue to do good local coverage," Mr. Bezos said.

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