First, Obama. It took him until his second term to publicly display some frustration with Putin, a former head of the KGB whose M.O. has been to bully and punish his opponents, and stick it to the United States while appearing to try to get
Obama criticized his predecessor by saying he would push the“reset” button on our relationship with the Russians. Thankfully, the President apparently is rethinking that reset because the Soviets, uh, Russians are doing some things
but not a lot of things in cooperation with the U.S. Two biggies: We’re on opposite sides in Syria and, in the most blatant public poke in the face, they are giving asylum to Edward Snowden.
We’ve seen what happens to people who truly want to reform Russia – Mikhail Gorbachev, probably the most progressive leader that country will ever see, basically was ousted in a coup led by the apparatchiks who feared his openness. Will
cancelling a summit change the relationship? No. But at least it sends a message that the United States isn’t going to just lie back and take it from Putin.
Now, the Post sale. Like everyone else in D.C., I rapidly went through the stages of grief when I read the news bulletin about the sale -- shock, sadness, acceptance. The Grahams, one of the greatest names in journalism, unselfishly giving up their crown jewel. They love that paper. They love the journalists, pressmen and others who work daily to put out one of the best papers in the world. They knew, though, that under their ownership, the paper was not going to thrive and maybe not even survive. Before that paper hit the low level of maybe needing to be auctioned off – which would have been a very sad day – they found a buyer who just might be able to take the paper into the Era of the New Media and figure out a way to make money with it, too. Jeffrey Bezos, the soon-to-be-new-owner, is one tough cookie from what I hear. And he’s one successful SOB too.
I read this morning that he all but banned the use of Power Point presentations at Amazon, for example. He did this after reading an essay by Edward Tufte, a computer science professor at Yale, who said the bullet points of a Power Point
presentation encourage lazy thinking. Bezos forces Amazon staff to write narratives of up to six pages to explain an idea – this forces people to think through their idea more deeply and put their ideas into the power of words. I like that. No quick three-word slogan for him.
He also encourages “two-pizza meetings,” under the belief that if you need enough people to eat three pizzas, you have too many people in the room to get anything done. Who among us hasn’t seen that theory proven in their careers? The more people in the room, the less that will get done as indecision, preening and bloated speeches rule the day and nothing is accomplished.
Journalism was a trade, as columnist Kathleen Parker wrote yesterday: “… that attracted my generation of reporters to the field. Back in the day, we really did want to save the world. And, of course, drink.”
That’s when I entered journalism. It paid terribly, but it was the most fun job I’ve ever had. Each paper that dies takes a piece of an old journalist with it. Let’s hope Mr. Bezos can work his magic on the Post.