The new world is here. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 49, has bought The Washington Post for $250 million. A man with no background in journalism but who has made a fortune reinventing the world via the internet, now owns one of the three or four most important newspapers in the world. He bought it from the Graham family, ending four decades of a dynasty that culminated in the 1970s with publisher Katherine Graham and the Watergate era. The press release says Bezos bought the paper on his own, that it’s not amazon.com buying it.
Graham’s granddaughter, Katherine Weymouth, will continue as CEO and Publisher. Weymouth is also related to rock royalty: her aunt is Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.
There are of course a lot of coincidences here. Newsweek was just sold again, this to the International Business Times, a business website. The Washington Post company owned Newsweek for a long time before it was sold to Sidney Harman and then the Daily Beast. Now there is no print magazine and a shell of a website.
And over the weekend The Boston Globe was sold to the owners of the Boston Red Sox by the New York Times Company after a twenty year partnership.
Print media is just holding on, and the only ones to save it really are web people with money and a fondness for the physical paper. To look at the very thin New York Post and Daily News, it’s surprising they are even still in business. If Bezos can apply his innovative sensibilities to the Post, then the future looks bright.
here’s the full press release:
The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) announced today that it has signed a contract to sell its newspaper publishing businesses, including The Washington Post newspaper, to Jeffrey P. Bezos.
The purchaser is an entity that belongs to Mr. Bezos in his individual capacity and is not Amazon.com, Inc.
“Everyone at the Post Company and everyone in our family has always been proud of The Washington Post — of the newspaper we publish and of the people who write and produce it,” said Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company. “I, along with Katharine Weymouth and our board of directors, decided to sell only after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges made us wonder if there might be another owner who would be better for the Post (after a transaction that would be in the best interest of our shareholders). Jeff Bezos’ proven technology and business genius, his long-term approach and his personal decency make him a uniquely good new owner for the Post.”
“I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” said Mr. Bezos. “Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.”
Mr. Bezos has asked Katharine Weymouth, CEO and Publisher of The Washington Post; Stephen P. Hills, President and General Manager; Martin Baron, Executive Editor; and Fred Hiatt, Editor of the Editorial Page to continue in those roles.
“With Mr. Bezos as our owner, this is the beginning of an exciting new era,” said Ms. Weymouth. “I am honored to continue as CEO and Publisher. I have asked the entire senior management team at all of the businesses being sold to continue in their roles as well.”
The transaction covers The Washington Post and other publishing businesses, including the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.
Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy are not part of the transaction and will remain with The Washington Post Company, as will the WaPo Labs and SocialCode businesses, the Company’s interest in Classified Ventures and certain real estate assets, including the headquarters building in downtown Washington, DC. The Washington Post Company, which also owns Kaplan, Post–Newsweek Stations and Cable ONE, will be changing its name in connection with the transaction; no new name has yet been announced.
The purchase price is $250 million, subject to normal working capital adjustments, payable at closing later this year.
Allen & Co. assisted the Post Company in the sale process.