National sports titan Ted Leonsis on Monday dissed The Washington Post and said the storied newspaper is "not that important anymore."
The owner of Washington's Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics, and a former AOL executive, told a crowd gathered at George Washington University that if he were the investor who had purchased the paper, he would have piped up and told its senior management, "This core model based on print isn't going to work," according to Politico.
"It's almost like you have a family friend who has a drinking problem or a drug problem," Leonsis said, reported Politico. "The first thing you have to say to them is they have to admit they have a drinking or drug problem. They have to say, 'We're not that important anymore, and what we've been doing hasn't been working. This core model based on print isn't going to work.'"
Leonsis, who also has a majority stake in The Verizon Center, said the Grahams, the family who previously owned the paper, did the right thing by selling the company to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.
"They just did what was necessary, which is [to get the paper] out of the crucible — how many subscribers did you add, what's the retention rate, what's your burn rate, what's the cash flow — because they have to reinvent themselves, and reinvention is messy, and you have to test a lot, and you have to invest a lot," Leonsis said. "So you cannot be a public company. So they did exactly the right thing and sold to an individual who has really great personal financial resources."
He also told Politico he was prescient enough — 10 years ago — to try to convince the editors to embrace an online format and use bloggers.
"If you said to the Post … 'You should be a platform, you should be embracing these bloggers and adding to your staff these virtual writers,' they said that these bloggers are not Washington Post-caliber people, they're not journalists," Leonsis said. "And I said, 'They're not, they're better.'"
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