An open letter to Jeff Bezos

It was announced this week that one of the companies you own, The Gazette Newspapers would be closing next week. According to reports from staffers at the meeting where Stephen Hills, (a Washington Post Executive) announced the closing, the newspaper was shopped to prospective buyers, none of whom were interested — and had to be closed for financial reasons.

I write to you because a Post spokesperson added that you, the owner, did not participate in any of these decisions.

I live in Montgomery County, where the Gazettes were headquartered and started 56 years ago and I’m appalled by this news for a long list of reasons I pray you will at least take the time to read.

  1. The Gazette was my main competitor for most of my life in the newspaper business, and they were an awesome competitor. I owned the Express, Chronicle and ran the Journal newspapers for years here in the area and I can tell you, they were superb at what they did, and had tremendous community support. To close this newspaper without attempting at least a change or two in management is a crime.
  1. Neither myself or Davis Kennedy, the former Gazette publisher and still publisher of another local paper, the Current, were contacted about buying, merging with, or attempting to save the Gazette in any form. That claim about contacting potential buyers and/or people with the ability to transform the Gazettes back into money makers is obviously a lie — because the two most qualified individuals in the entire region for saving this wonderful and necessary institution are Mr. Kennedy and myself. How serious an effort could have been made to save the organization if the two most qualified people to do so – were not even contacted?
  1. Stephen Hills the aforementioned executive is known to me of course, and I’m not impressed. He knew nothing about this business when he joined the Washington Post (his only qualification being his friendship with Donald Graham, apparently) and today he knows even less, having learned at the knees of people who oversaw the decline and fall of good journalism here in Washington, not it’s ascension. I suspect this closing has one purpose and one purpose only in his eyes, remove some advertising competition for the Post, where he works.
  1. This idea will not work because the Post is a sick institution, producing bad journalism everyday and the worst advertising customer service of any newspaper in America and even shutting down the Gazettes won’t push any of that revenue into the Post for long. This is just another misguided attempt by the man who helped ruin the Post, — to save it by killing off the good newspapers around it.
  1. Wake up Jeff Bezos. When the Iranian government captures your journalists and puts them on trial, the answer isn’t to kiss the rear end of the delusional president making such a bad deal for the world, and keep quiet about his pending trial and possible incarceration for life (or worse) and run editorial after editorial supporting such lunacy — while allowing the White House press spokesperson to cover up this atrocity by repeatedly claiming that such a deal was “separate” from all other concerns; like the kidnapping, false arrest, false trial and possible execution of your loyal reporter. Jason Rezaian’s face should be a in a small box on the front page everyday until the Ayatollah relents or Obama decides he matters, and it is criminal for you to own this newspaper and not even understand that.
  1. Wake up Jeff Bezos. If you really do shut down a 56 year old, culturally and politically important institution that has served this area faithfully without even being consulted, you shouldn’t own such a newspaper in the first place, go back to hawking crap on the Internet and losing money there for 20 straight years.
  1. Wake up Jeff Bezos. This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue, or even a straight up business decision, this is about the commitment real newspaper people bring to the running of organizations that serve a vital role in a strong democracy – a principle you obviously care so little about — this decision doesn’t even make it to your desk, by your own spokesperson’s admission.
  1. Where is the innovation Jeff Bezos? Where is the digital community newspaper model the Gazette could have become Jeff Bezos? Where is the commitment to forge alliances with local leaders that understand the market and could save the newspaper Jeff Bezos? Where is even one breakfast meeting with either Mr. Kennedy or myself to talk about such things?
  1. I’ve said it again and I’ll say it even louder, shame on you Jeff Bezos, this newspaper was not a new toy car to park in your garage and look at and than sell when you discovered something else to play with, this newspaper is the last place a million Montgomery County residents had to learn the truth about their government, school system and high school sports results. It was important, venerable and trusted, it needed a new business model and instead got thrown out like garbage, having been sacrificed so you could play mouthpiece with its parent newspaper. Shame, shame, shame.

About karlspain

20 year Newspaperman. Lifelong Inventor. Wrote 2 books so far, working on more. The Revelation, 1st book, about your brain & the universe, and math. Hooked together! God I trust, America I love, 2nd book, is the biography of Aris Mardirossian, a great man. Also owned a software company, an IT integration company, a gas station and a fuzzy logic software title along the way.
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