The Washington Post is now, apparently, a tech company

By Nathaniel Mott , written on December 30, 2014

From The News Desk

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has turned the Washington Post into a tech company.

The Financial Times reports that the Post will soon license its content management system -- the software which allows the company to publish stories online -- to some of the smaller newspapers which already license and republish the Post's journalism. (It's said to have already licensed the software to Columbia, Yale, and other schools.)

The Post is also said to be opening offices in New York and Virginia in its bid to hire engineers to "prove that we are not a newspaper company — we are a truly scrappy, innovative technology company that builds stuff instead of manages and buys stuff," as the Post's chief information officer, Shailesh Prakash, told the Financial Times.

It's not unusual for publishers to hire software engineers. But it is strange that a 137-year-old publisher has suddenly become a technology company. Prakash told the Financial Times that the Post is emulating Amazon by making tools to help the Post while offering them to other companies, like Amazon Web Services.

There's another billionaire-financed publisher which declared earlier this year that it's going to focus on building technology which can then be sold to others: First Look Media, the Pierre Omidyar-led venture that was supposed to create a variety of digital magazines but has instead started to focus on developing software products.

At least First Look is a new company -- calling anything financed with a $250 million commitment from a billionaire a "startup" would be ridiculous -- with growing pains. The Post is an institution of American journalism, however.

Let's just hope this tech company keeps more than the Washington Post's name. Oh, sorry, that wasn't very tech-y of me. I meant to say the Washington Post's brand.

[illustration by Hallie Bateman]