Amazon founder Bezos buys Washington Post for $250 million

Such an interesting development today.

From the Washington Post’s Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos:

The Washington Post Co. has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.

Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to the Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.

Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days.

And this:

The Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division, of which the Post newspaper is the most prominent part, has suffered a 44 percent decline in operating revenue over the past six years. Although the paper is one of the most popular news sources online, print circulation has dwindled, too, falling an additional 7 percent daily and Sundays during the first half of this year.

And from the Post’s Ezra Klein:

Don Graham says the decision to sell came from a simple calculation: The Washington Post is a public company, and it doesn’t have infinitely deep pockets. They looked to the future and saw that they’d have to keep cutting. The implication is that Bezos doesn’t have to keep cutting, and won’t keep cutting, though nobody really knows.

From Jim Tankersly’s Journalism needs a business model. Can Jeff Bezos find one?:

And that is my hope for the Post under the new owner from Seattle: that we will figure out a way to turn a profit on the type of journalism that everyone here believes in. I don’t know a single reporter who got into journalism for the money. I do know a lot of really talented young reporters who worry there won’t be money in journalism for much longer. I’d like to prove them wrong. I’d like to be a part of the place that figures out the business model without sacrificing the things that drew me into the business in the first place.

And Bezos’ letter to Post employees:

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.[…]

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.

Forbes estimates that Bezos has a net worth of $25 billion, so this amount is literally 1 percent — 1 percent! — of his net worth.

While I don’t relish the idea of the super-rich becoming personal owners of major media outlets, this sale might take some of the pressure off the Post to generate yearly profits as a publicly held company. Because we’ve seen again and again in recent years that shareholder demands for profits means deep cuts to newsroom staffs.

Maybe Bezos will begin by rolling back the metered paywall that the Post recently unveiled . . .

We’ll see what happens from here.