The Washington Post coulda been a contender. Though the Internet has killed off and worn down many legacy media mastheads, it has allowed others to position themselves as new brands for specific national audiences, writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times: "The Wall Street Journal has a clear role as the paper of the American business class. ... The New York Times fills a similar role for the intelligentsia and the liberal professional classes," and the Post, with its influence and stronghold on DC, was a natural fit to become "the paper of record for political coverage."
So why is it instead being sold off for $250 million to a tech titan? One word, says Douthat: Politico. When journalists John Harris and Jim VandeHei left the Post to found the political site in 2006, they "claimed a big part of the audience that the Post needed in order to thrive in the world the Internet has made." Today, it is Politico that "dominates the DC conversation" and is the "must-read for Beltway professionals and politics junkies everywhere." So if new owner Jeff Bezos has any hope of turning its fortunes around, says Douthat, he will have to throw his money into an old fashioned newspaper war to win those readers back. "For the Post to thrive again," writes Douthat, "Politico must lose." Click to read the full column.