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Throughout my built environment project I focused on The Washington Post, both the old headquarters and the current headquarters. In the beginning of the semester I focused on the architectural and locational differences between the two locations. With the final project I decided to dig deeper and research the origins of the newspaper and how the family owned company landed into the hands of the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. I chose to display my research and argument in the form of an emaze presentation.
The visual presentation is designed as a digital newspaper in order to have the audience better relate to the aesthetic appeal of one; but since it is digital, it allows me to add the multimodality of juxtaposed images and and interactive video. The newspaper design is meant to illustrate an example of a digital newspaper telling the story of how The Washington Post was sold. Each ‘slide’ is representing an article or more of a different piece of information in comparison to the previous one. Collectively, the presentation builds upon itself from start to end. Throughout the presentation there are numerous images and in relation to one another I intended for them to display the juxtaposition of concepts. The other mode presented in this presentation, is the video of an interview on the 60 minutes show with Jeff Bezos, explaining what motivated him to purchase the newspaper.
Contextually, I was aiming to describe the differences between Katherine Graham and Jeff Bezos, highlighting their contrasting influences on The Washington Post. As I mention in the presentation Katharine Graham was one of the most prominent women in Washington D.C., this was due to her upbringing and her political network. Many have referred to her as the “woman who brought down a president” (Davis). Originally The Washington Post was gifted to Katherine and her husband Philip as a wedding gift from her father and since then Philip ran the paper. After Phillip committed suicide Katherine took over and then began her reign of. The Washington Post better established its worth after being responsible for the full coverage of the Watergate incident with President Nixon, and that was due to Katherine’s connections. After Katherine passed away, her son took over the Post. Evidently he did not have his mother’s touch and asked Jeff Bezos to take over. In an interview Bezos mentioned that he doesn’t know anything about newspapers, but he does know a thing or two about the internet. As the CEO of Amazon, one of the most successful e commerce platforms, Bezos spotted the opportunity to take new reporting to the next level within the digital era.
Argumentatively, I was aiming to point out that with the transition in power from the Graham family to Jeff Bezos and the physical relocation of the headquarters to a more high end and modernized location, the Washington Post has evolved. Katherine Graham turned The Washington Post into and news reporting powerhouse that has been respected throughout the nation. Before Bezos purchased the Post, the company was experiencing a great decline in sales for past seven years, therefore the sale was their only hope. (Bloomberg) Bezos as someone who knew nothing about the newspaper industry took into account what he does know and used it to his advantage. He is known to be an internet industry disrupter and in his letter to the staff of The Washington Post, he wrote: “The internet is transforming almost every element of the news business. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment”(The New York Times). Since 2007, the print newspaper industry has dropped 55.8%. Therefore it is logical to choose Bezos to be the one to expand The Washington Post’s digital news reporting (Bloomberg).
Some may argue that the digitalization of the newspaper takes away from the authenticity of reading a printed newspaper, but in today’s digitalized world people are closely tied to their devices and prefer to inquire information in a digital form.
At this point you may wonder why does it matter that the Washington Post was sold to Jeff Bezos and relocated to K Street? It is a great opportunity for journalists, writers, User Experience Specialists, Web designers, IT Specialists, and others who may be able to catch on to Bezos plan to innovate the Washington post. This is the era of the internet being a worldwide commonplace and everyone is a part of it, but there are those who get ahead and become a part of the fast paced evolution of disturbing the industry. So become a part of it while you still can!
60 Minutes. Why Bezos Bought The Washington Post. YouTube.
Bloomberg. Jeff Bezos Paid Asking Price for Washington Post. YouTube.
Davis, Deborah. Katherine The Great. 3rd ed., Sheridan Square Press, 1991.
The New York Times. Jeff Bezos: Background on the Amazon Founder Who Bought The Washington Post | The New York Times. YouTube.