Washington Post has record traffic month after adding digital staff — is it the Bezos effect?

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Ever since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos acquired the newspaper last year for $250 million, the Washington Post has been adding editorial staff — many of them on the digital side of the paper — and it has also launched a number of new, web-focused features such as PostEverything and Storyline. According to an announcement from editor-in-chief Marty Baron on Tuesday, those efforts have been paying off: in July, the paper saw the highest traffic in its history.

The announcement didn’t say exactly how much traffic the site got, nor did it say whether this was based on raw pageviews or unique visitors or some other metric — a topic that is the subject of much debate within the media industry — and it didn’t say anything about growth in online revenue either. But for a newspaper that appeared to be floundering as badly as the Post was when it was sold, almost any improvement is probably worth celebrating.

Baron gave credit to PostEverything and Storyline, as well as growth at other Post features and blogs such as Wonkblog (whose creator Ezra Klein left to start what eventually became Vox), along with new ventures such as The Morning Mix, and verticals devoted to health, science and sports — and he said the paper has added 60 new staff on the editorial side since the beginning of the year.

In a recent interview with Capital New York, the Post editor said that the paper has been making an effort to hire digital natives in order to accelerate its ability to create new online ventures and adapt to what readers want:

“In order to achieve those goals, we think we need to hire people who are fundamentally digital. They’ve sort of grown up in the digital world, they’ve written primarily for digital platforms, and that’s what we’ve been looking for. Our view is that the web is a different medium, and it calls for a different form of storytelling. These are all people who are experienced in that form of storytelling, and in many instances it’s second-nature for them, and that’s their primary form of expression. We need more of that, we want more of that.”

Now all the Post has to do is show that all of these digital ventures and new hires can contribute to the bottom line as opposed to simply driving traffic — although of course Jeff Bezos is not known for being overly concerned with how much profit his companies generate.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Thinkstock / Janie Airey

2 Comments

David Johnson ☠

As one of the sod busters of digital journalism, Barron’s comments are irritating. We told them fifteen years ago that it was a different medium and that storytelling had to change because content adapts to format (wire stories are designed to be cut to fit print, headlines for rip and read on air…), but the journalists of Marty’s generation told us what we were doing wasn’t “journalism.” And, having taught our skills and perspectives to the “digital natives” for several years, we all have found that they are native _consumers_, but not native _makers_. What they’re doing successfully is bringing a younger voice that clicks with a younger reader, which is not really new. It’s what MSNBC started out to do many, many iterations ago in the original strategy of putting 20-somethings like Soledad O’Brien with laptops on their desks on air when the world was full of old white men reading from paper.

//grumble

RobPaulGru

I spend all my time at WaPo’s site ranting about our criminal and corrupt regime in DC.

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