"We will need to experiment." That's what Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos told employees of The Washington Post in a letter he sent them earlier this week, announcing that he'd bought the paper. "There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy," Bezos said.
But before Bezos starts experimenting with the 135-year old publication, we hope he spends the nine minutes it'll take to watch this very informative story from the 60 Minutes vault. It's Mike Wallace's 1974 report on The Washington Post, and it goes straight to the heart of the paper's real worth, despite the relatively bargain price of $250 million that Bezos paid for it.
What Mike found in the Post's newsroom during its glory days was an extraordinary cast of characters: the legendary and hilarious executive editor Ben Bradlee, a scruffy, young Bob Woodward, and the late publishing great Katharine Graham, known as the "Iron Butterfly," who steered her family's newspaper through the stormy Watergate years.
Near the end of the piece, Wallace asks Bradlee: What do you do when times are tough in the newspaper business? "Hunker down," said Bradlee. "Hunker down and go about our business, which is not to be loved but to go after the truth."
Enjoy your purchase, Mr. Bezos.
Note to readers: This piece was produced by Marion Goldin. It originally aired on the 60 Minutes broadcast at a length of 15 minutes on Aug. 4, 1974. Several minutes have been edited from this web version for the sake of brevity.