Adviser Update Summer 2016 - Page 6

N E W S M AT TE R S Jeff Bezos transforms Washington Post By Richard J. Levine A Richard J. Levine Richard J. Levine is president of the board of directors of the Dow Jones News Fund, Inc. Since joining Dow Jones in 1966, he has served as vice president for news and staff development, executive editor of Dow Jones Newswires, vice president of information services, editorial director of electronic publishing and Washington correspondent and columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Email: richard.levine@dowjones.com s a correspondent in The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau in the 1960s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, I routinely started my morning with the Washington Post. A quick read could make or break my day. If I had an exclusive in the Journal, I sipped my coffee with a big smile. If, however, the Post had beaten me on an important a story, I faced questions from unhappy editors and hours playing catch up. Back then, the Post, long controlled by the Graham family and led by executive editor Ben Bradlee, was a formidable competitor and highly profitable newspaper with seemingly limitless ambition—capable of helping drive Richard Nixon from the presidency with its coverage of the Watergate scandal. However, the Post lost a good measure of its fierce energy and direction in the decades that followed. By 2013, it had been deeply damaged by the Internet and the digital revolution. Like so many other newspapers across the country, it was facing significant losses in circulation and advertising and felt compelled to reduce newsroom staffing sharply. Still, nothing prepared Post employees, leading media observers or the general public for the announcement in August of that year that the Graham family was selling one of the nation’s leading newspapers and a number of smaller properties to Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, for $250 million in cash. Completed on Oct. 1, 2013, the transaction put the once mighty Post in the hands of a businessman regarded as a true visionary in the technology industry. Today, while much of the newspaper business is still groping for a new business model amid continuing cutbacks Jeff Bezos in editorial staff and coverage, the Post seems to have regained much of its old confidence, drive and sense of purpose, if not its old financial strength, under the leadership of Bezos and executive editor Martin Baron. In April, the Post staff won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting “for its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.” This was the second consecutive year the Post was awarded a Pulitzer for national reporting.