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Bezos, The Post and Higher Ed
August 5, 2013 - 9:00pm

"We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment."

From a letter to Washington Post employees from Jeff Bezos on his $250 million purchase of the paper.

What would you do if you were given the mandate from your president to experiment?

Jeff Bezos is absolutely under no illusions about the challenges faced by traditional newspapers.  

He writes;

"The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy."

How could that quote be rewritten to apply to higher ed? Maybe:

"The Internet is transforming almost every aspect of higher education: challenging the bundled and campus based education model,eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no campus, infrastructure, or research and service costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy."

Very few would disagree with the proposition that higher ed needs to be as aggressive in experimenting as the newspaper business. We all want to play a part in constructing our own future.

The key question are what are the organizational structures and what sort of leadership do we need to catalyze experimentation in higher ed?   

It will be fascinating to watch what Jeff Bezos does at the Washington Post over the next few years. I wish that we had more examples of higher ed leaders prepared to take the sort of entrepreneurial risks that Bezos will most likely make in the newspaper industry.

Where are the similarities between newspapers and higher ed, the Washington Post and your campus?  

What questions would Jeff Bezos be asking if he was as interested in higher education as he is in journalism?

How must newspapers and higher ed change to continue to be as relevant in this century as both were in the last?

 

 

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