The announcement that the Washington Post Co. sold its flagship paper to billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million, surprised everyone. And in an era when the Washington Post sells Newsweek for $1 and the New York Times sells the Boston Globe at a 93% loss; $250 million might sound like a lot of money. But buried in the Post’s own reporting of its sale is the news that ten years ago the Post would have sold for $2 billion with a -B-.
That represents an 87% loss in just a decade. You figure in ten years of inflation and we are probably over 90%.
Like most print media outlets, the Post has had to struggle with the rise of the Internet and competition from New Media. That certainly hurt its value, but the Post is also guilty of a number of unforced errors that resulted in untold damage to the credibility of its once legendary brand.
Over the years, the fake fact checks, the apparent coordinating with the Obama campaign to destroy Romney, the phony smears leveled at Republicans, the non-stop pushing of leftist causes, the unforgivable stealth-corrections, the laughably biased polls… All of this added up in a way that devastated the Post’s credibility and left it a shell of itself.
You can’t wade into an online world where competition is everywhere and behave in this way. When people have options, they are not going to stand for the absurd deception that they are paying for and giving page views to an “objective” news outlet.
To millions and millions of potential customers, the Post became something that wasn’t vital; something they no longer trusted. Millions more see the Post as an outright antagonist out to undermine who they are and what they believe in.
In a free market, when you alienate most of the customers, you end up on the wrong end of a fire sale.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC