The founder of Amazon has agreed a deal to buy the Washington Post. The newspaper’s owners said the deal, which does not involve the Internet retailer, would help it better address the challenges of the online era.
Bezos, who is still Amazon’s chief executive, is to become the sole owner of the Washington Post, as well as a number of other newspapers within the group.
However, the Post said, Seattle-based Amazon is to have no corporate connection to the newspaper as part of the $250-million (190-million-euro) deal.
The Washington Post Co cited the “financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers” and the “epochal change from print to digital technology” as reasons for the sale.
In an interview with the Post, group chief executive Donald Graham said the decision had been made after years of challenges to the newspaper industry. He called Bezos “a uniquely good owner.”
“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,” said Graham, praising Bezos for his “proven technology and business genius.”
‘No map, a difficult path’
Multi-billionaire Bezos said he hoped to guide the newspaper through the evolution away from traditional newsprint.
“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,” said Bezos.
Only the flagship Post and its print news stablemates – including the commuter daily The Express and the Spanish language El Tiempo Latino – will change hands.
While the non-newspaper arm of the Washington Post Co – which includes the Kaplan education division and several television stations – is not part of the deal, the group will change its name.
Distinguished publishing history
The newspaper has been in the hands of the Meyer-Graham family since 1933, when it was bought by Eugene Meyer. Publisher Katharine Graham presided over the Post for three decades from 1963, during which time the publication became world-renowned for its breaking of the Watergate scandal.
That investigation, by journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, led to the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon over illegal activities carried out by the White House.
In its time, the newspaper has won 47 Pulitzer prizes – including six in 2008 alone. Despite its reputation the newspaper has seen circulation sink steadily, falling by 8.6 percent last year. It dropped by seven percent in the first seven months of this year, selling less than half-a-million copies per day.