There are broadly three scenarios, with both benign and tragic consequences.
Firstly Bezos has made a vanity purchase to get him a seat at the Washington top table. He will be an absent owner with a gentle touch on the tiller. The journos will continue to do their jobs, happy in the knowledge that they have a rich and benign benefactor. This scenario is most likely wishful thinking.
Second scenario, Bezos pushes for efficiencies in the technology behind the Washington Post and introduces some quirky revenue streams, mostly connected to intelligent ads linked to Amazon products. In doing so a symbiotic creature thrives like a pilot fish swimming behind a shark. The sensitive creatives are largely protected from this revolution and continue to pump out world beating editorial. The media world look on with envy.
Third scenario; Bezos is looking to turn The Washington Post into a media version of Amazon. In doing so he kills it.
Now, having worked for Bezos, even as a junior marketing guy in Slough, I felt his bark. The overriding ethos is one of 'frugality' which means in practice that the toilets don't flush. The slim margins of online retail drove pedantry and panic. Cross continent conference calls had colleagues breaking down while a Seattle executive was screaming at them because a micro cell on a third page of a spread sheet had changed, and they didn't know why. Meanwhile the monster was to grow at 30% YoY and 29% equalled failure, possibly loss of job. And it wasn't the commercial people who made stuff happen, it was more likely an engineer. Amazon is a tech company that happens to sell a ton of stuff.
Turn this culture on a news organisation and it will break down, both institutionally and individually.
I am all for innovation and transition, and wish Bezos well at cracking the online media code. But he needs to find some velvet gloves for those iron fists.
Read Chris Hughes here and Felix Salmon here