In an announcement that is sure to have far reaching implications for both traditional and digital media, Jeff Bezos, the Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the board of Amazon.com, will buy Washington Post and other newspapers of The Washington Post Company for $250 million.
Bezos is buying Washington Post as an individual and Amazon.com is not involved in the purchase.
Bezos promises of changes at The Post over the coming years in a memo to the paper’s employees, which was published on the paper’s website on August 5, 2013. He further wrote, “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.”
The development has taken the entire media industry by surprise. Washington Post has been seen as one of the few print publications standing up to the inroads made by digital media. Yet, all is not well with the paper. As per various media reports, The Washington Post Company saw a 39 per cent fall in its annual newspaper revenue from $957 million in 2005 to $582 million last year. Meanwhile, readership too noted a drop in the last 10 years.
Many are seeing this purchase as a fresh lease of life for the venerable paper. It remains to be seen what plans Bezos has to strengthen the paper’s position and improve its revenue situation. Being a digital native, there is much curiosity in the industry as to whether Bezos would give a digital avatar to Washington Post or whether he would seek to create an Amazon-like success in the print space.