For more than eight years, The Washington Post experienced a second golden age. From late 2013, when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the storied paper for $250 million, through the early months of 2021, when Donald Trump left the White House and a new administration began to settle in, the Post was firing on all cylinders. Thanks to Bezos’ strategic investments in technology and an expanded news report, the Post emerged as a real competitor to The New York Times for the first time since the 1970s.
That second golden age also overlapped with Martin Baron’s time as executive editor of the Post. In his new book, “Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post,” Baron tells the story of those years, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the end of the legendary Graham era; how Bezos quickly transformed a shrinking, mostly regional newspaper into a national digital media outlet; and the challenge of covering Trump, whom Baron frankly, and repeatedly, calls an “authoritarian.”
I’ve covered Marty Baron off and on for years, back when he was editor of The Boston Globe and I was the media columnist for The Boston Phoenix, and later when I was reporting on the Post for my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century.” Baron is both accessible and accountable, but he can also be intimidating and a bit defensive. He deserves his reputation as the best editor of his era, not just at the Times but at the Globe and, before that, the Miami Herald.