Dear Mr. Bezos:
What you have in the Washington Post is an opportunity of enormous possibility. One that goes well beyond circulation, page views, content and advertising dollars. One that could change the way business is done in Washington, for the good of those who are represented by it.
Today, we, the people, are let down by Washington. We have little trust in Washington to do right by us. And with new media outlets exploding, we don’t know what to trust of what we hear. So we are left on our own to figure it out as Washington spins its wheels, with us on the outside looking in.
Many have questioned (and I’m sure will continue to question) the editorial objectivity of your ownership. But that’s not what this letter is about. I have little doubt that the Washington Post will maintain its high editorial standards, for they are the bedrock of the brand.
I am writing you with the hope you will use this acquisition to improve the state of Washington. To not only report on the issues, but to involve us, the people, in them. By doing so, you can help us reimagine politics as a collaboration between us citizens and our government.
With Amazon, you and your team turned shopping on its head. You gave the consumer a voice in the process to improve the experience of commerce. You built a community where consumers trust one another, where they can hear directly from one another and make better and more informed decisions as a result.
Imagine if you could do the same with Washington. Imagine if citizens’ voices were heard as loud as the politicians’. Imagine if citizens could co-create policy with politicians. Imagine if government were a dialogue and not a fight.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” The Washington Post is more than a news outlet. It is a channel of the people. It’s a connection between people and between them and their government.
I believe you’ll do right by the Washington Post and its editorial standards. My hope is that you will see the Washington Post as an opportunity to engage people more in their government and the government in its people, as a true collaboration.