AfterDawn: Tech news

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos buys Washington Post for $250 million

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 06 Aug 2013 8:55

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos buys Washington Post for $250 million Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has agreed to purchase the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million.
The Washington Post Company, which owns the paper, Kaplan education and other smaller businesses, will change its name following the sale.

Bezos is the second billionaire in the last week to purchase up a newspaper. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry just purchased the Boston Globe and its properties for $70 million.

When completed, the Washington Post will switch hands for the first time since 1933, after being stewarded by the Graham family for the last 80 years. The paper has seen almost a decade straight of declining sales as advertisers move almost entirely to the Internet and mobile devices. The company posted a $53.7 million loss last year. Bezos will pay for pension obligations of current employees while Washington Post Co. will pay for those who have already retired.

Besides the Post, Bezos will also get smaller properties such as the Greater Washington Publishing, the Gazette newspapers, Express, El Tiempo Latino and Robinson Terminal.

Bezos offered a long, well-thought out statement for WaPo employees:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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