The following was submitted by Laura Sheridan.
At a McLean Woman’s Club meeting on Sept. 3, retired Washington Post columnist Bob Levey shared his views on the Post’s future in the wake of its purchase by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.
He also discussed the economic factors affecting the newspaper business, including the loss of advertising, declines in circulation and, perhaps chiefly, the competition of the Internet.
Levey believes there will be two forms of the Washington Post: “I think it’s not too much of a leap to say that very, very soon the Post will be in a very limited way a print product and in a very major way an electronic product,” he said.
Moreover, customers probably will be able to select the portions of the paper they wish to receive online, essentially creating a version of the paper that is customized for them.
Levey sees dangers in this practice: “In the political and opinion realm… People will order stuff that reinforces what they already think.” He did, however, note the “great” business value of the plan. He also expressed concern that Bezos, the new owner of the Post, might try to impose his political views, and that residing in Washington State, far from D.C., might cause the paper to neglect local events, which have been its traditional focus. He is also concerned about the truncated nature of news on the Internet and “the difficulty in getting the full story” there.
However, Levey believes the Post’s print version will continue to be “a deeply reported, carefully edited product.”
“We have to stand for the best, the deepest and the fullest,” Levey said.