The Washington Post Co. will sell its flagship newspaper and one of the most respected news organizations in the country to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos for $250 million, the company announced in a press release. The Post has long been a family-owned business.
Bezos' purchase — which also includes the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing — ends four generations of stewardship of the newspaper by the Graham family, the Post reported:
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. The Post Co. will change to a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post thereafter.
Katharine Weymouth, who will remain publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, wrote her own personal letter to readers in the newspaper, reassuring them that the paper's mission would not change:
The board of our parent corporation, including my uncle and company chairman Don Graham, made this decision with a heavy heart but with an absolute conviction that Mr. Bezos' ownership represents a unique and extraordinary opportunity for The Washington Post and for you, our readers.
She said that Bezos "will continue the tradition that the Graham family started with the purchase of The Washington Post by Eugene Meyer in 1933. Since then, and most especially over the past four decades, The Washington Post has earned a worldwide reputation for tough, penetrating, insightful, and indispensable journalism. With the investment by Mr. Bezos, that tradition will continue."
The paper adds:
"The deal represents a sudden and stunning turn of events for The Post, Washington's leading newspaper for decades and a powerful force in shaping the nation's politics and policy. Few people were aware that a sale was in the works for the paper, whose reporters have broken such stories as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandals and disclosures about the National Security Administration's surveillance program in May.
"For much of the past decade, however, the paper has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other 'legacy' media organizations. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties."