Amazon CEO Bezos to Buy Washington Post

From USA Today:

“In a transaction rich in symbolism, digital billionaire Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, has agreed to buy one of the nation’s best and best-known legacy media publications, The Washington Post.

Bezos, who is paying $250 million in cash, is handling the deal individually, and the fabled newspaper will not be part of online retailer Amazon.com.”

This is a time of transition for journalism as a whole, and times are especially rough for newspapers. Subscription and ad revenue have been on the decline for years as online media steadily eats away at their business. Many newspapers have reduced themselves to only a website while others have gone out of business entirely.

Will Bezos turn the Posts’s fortune around? I’m not sure. While he has shown great business savvy through his leadership of Amazon.com, running a newspaper is very different than operating an online store. That being said, nobody pays hundreds of a millions of dollars for a company and not have some idea about how to run it.

Bezos’s decision to purchase the Post is kind of ironic, given that he was quoted last year as saying  “there is one thing I’m certain about: there won’t be printed newspapers in twenty years.” So either he has increased optimism about the newspaper business or we may see the Washington Post go completely digital sooner than we thought.

Interestingly, it seems that the Washington Post was bought for a sum that was just 1/4 of the amount that Facebook paid for Instagram. I can’t think of a better metaphor for the decline of print journalism than that.

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