Amazon boss purchases Washington Post
The Washington Post, one of America’s most influential newspapers, will be sold to the founder of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P Bezos, for $250 million.
For decades, The Washington Post has gained worldwide attention thanks to news stories that have changed the course of history, like the Watergate scandal in the 1972 and, more recently, the disclosures about the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.
The Post’s chairman and chief executive, Donald E. Graham, whose family has owned the newspaper for more than 80 years, explained that The Post has suffered from the financial crisis of the last decade. According to Graham, the rise of the Internet has created a wave of competition for traditional news companies, which was impossible for the paper to withstand.
At a meeting of employees, Graham tried to explain his position, saying: “The Post could have survived under the company’s ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future, but we wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this guarantees success, but it gives us a much greater chance of success.”
The initiative for the sale came from the Graham family and not from Bezos, who was chosen between six potential suitors. Amazon will have no role in the purchase and Bezos will be the only owner of the organisation within the next 60 days, when the sale will be completed.
Bezos made a statement after the announcement of the sale, saying that this is uncharted territory for him and requires experimentation, but that values of the paper don’t need changing. He explained: “The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”
Bezos had already shown an interest in the media before, when, some months ago, he invested $5 million in Business Insider, a US business and technology news website.
Considering Amazon’s success in the past years, Bezos is likely to be aware of the similarities between the digital news business and his own e-commercial interests. He will be sensitive to the fact that making the news industry complementary to Amazon might pave the way to a new profitable business.