【MR JAMIE專欄】Jeff Bezos 給華盛頓郵報同仁的公開信

到此為止,大家應該都知道 Jeff Bezos 以美金 2.5 億的個人資產,買下了美國最具代表性報業集團之一的華盛頓郵報。這個事件對美國的歷史意義,和數年前旺旺買下中國時報集團對台灣的歷史意義接近,甚至有過之而無不急。

當然是怎麼樣的歷史意義,已經有不少新聞行業的專家寫了他們的評析

今天我想聊的,是在星期一新聞公開之後,新東家 Jeff Bezos 在昨天,也就是星期二,發表在 Washington Post 網站,他寫給華盛頓郵報同仁的這封信,和信背後 Jeff 展現出來的創業精神與領導者風範。

To the employees of The Washington Post:

You’ll have heard the news, and many of you will greet it with a degree of apprehension. When a single family owns a company for many decades, and when that family acts for all those decades in good faith, in a principled manner, in good times and in rough times, as stewards of important values – when that family has done such a good job – it is only natural to worry about change.

信的第一段,Jeff 首先處理「情緒」這個最重要的東西,但他不是告訴同仁們「不要擔心」,而是先認同他們的擔心,並且替他們剖析擔心的理由「原來的東家這麼好,換了新東家不知道有沒有一樣好,是人都會擔心…」。

So, let me start with something critical. The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely.

Empathy 取得了初步的認同,接著 Jeff 開始給出承諾,開始試著贏得 Post 同仁的信任。值得注意的是他並沒有去觸碰工作權、薪水或福利這些一般併購案後員工最關心的議題,相反的,Jeff 訴求更高一層,也就是新聞從業人員普遍認同的價值 ── 服務大眾、挖掘真相、避免錯誤報導等等。Jeff 給出的承諾是明確的告訴 Post 同仁,這些新聞的基本價值並不會因為一個商人接手,而有任何改變。

I won’t be leading The Washington Post day-to-day. I am happily living in “the other Washington” where I have a day job that I love. Besides that, The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.

而為了徹底消除同仁對新東家干涉新聞自由的疑慮,Jeff 接著闡明了他不能也不會參與 Post 的日常運作。值得注意的是為了贏取好感,Jeff 把自己的位置降到最低,除了自嘲是「另一個 (也就是較不知名的的意思) 華盛頓」的居民外,他甚至把自己在電商巨人 Amazon 擔任 CEO 職務這個事實,只用了一個「一個白天的工作」來形容。接著他稱讚 Post 現在的經營團隊對新聞的專業,也謙卑的感謝他們願意留任。

There will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. 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. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.

醞釀了三段之後,接著進入了重頭戲。Jeff 開始說但事情必須要有變化,但變化不是新東家造成的,而是大環境,也就是 Internet 帶來的顛覆。接著他說:「 (變化) 並沒有地圖,要畫出前進的路線更不會是容易的。我們必須要發明,這代表著我們必須要實驗。讀者是我們的試金石,我們必須了解他們關心的事物 ── 政府、地方讀者、餐廳開幕、監督軍隊、商業、慈善、州長、體育,然後從那邊倒推回來。」這整段基本上就是網路行業的核心精神,從市場出發,了解消費者的需要,然後再從那邊倒推回來滿足這些需要。消費者是很難了解的,因此需要實驗,取得數據,然後才能發明。

Journalism plays a critical role in a free society, and The Washington Post — as the hometown paper of the capital city of the United States — is especially important. I would highlight two kinds of courage the Grahams have shown as owners that I hope to channel. The first is the courage to say wait, be sure, slow down, get another source. Real people and their reputations, livelihoods and families are at stake. The second is the courage to say follow the story, no matter the cost. While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Graham’s example, I’ll be ready.

表達了他將會推動的改變後,Jeff 又回到讚揚與認同的取得 (這是典型的三明治夾攻)。他闡明新聞對自由社會的價值,華盛頓郵報對首都居民的影響力,以及前東家 Graham 家族哲學。最後還補上一句,如果為了 Post 的新聞正義要他冒生命風險,他也願意。

I want to say one last thing that’s really not about the paper or this change in ownership. I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Don very well over the last ten plus years. I do not know a finer man.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bezos

而信的最後,Jeff 給了一個超級漂亮的收尾。他知道大家會懷疑這是一個倉促的決定,所以除了再次讚揚 Post 現任董事長 Donold Graham 是他所認識最紳士的男人外,也偷偷洩漏了兩人已經相知十多年的事實,接著就讓這封信完美的收在讀者滿意與驚奇的情緒高點上。

身為一個「西部 New Money 科技新富」,要收買長期在東岸 Old Guard Graham 家族門下的 700 多位 WaPo 知識工作者的心,並不是容易的事情。我認為 Jeff Bezos 的這第一封信非常經典,選擇刊登在 Post 網站上也非常巧妙,值得所有創業者細讀、學習。

PS. 如果你還記得的話,收買 Zappos 時,Bezos 給同仁的第一個公開溝通,是一支這樣的 YouTube 影片:

歡迎在 Google+ 上追蹤我

(Photo via aliasaria, CC License)

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