135-Year-Old Washington Post Sold To Amazon CEO: The Slow Death Of Print Continues
Just days after a weekend that saw both The Boston Globe and Newsweek, two well known brands in print media, humbly sold at prices that defied their great histories, another newspaper giant has now been thrown into the hands of one of the tech world's biggest figures.
The Washington Post, one of the nation's proudest and most distinguished publications, has been bought by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. The 'Post, which famously exposed President Richard Nixon in uncovering the Watergate Scandal, has been sold with a price tag of $250 million. The 'Post's valuation is one that more than triples the rate at which The Globe was sold to the Boston Red Sox owner, John Henry, this past Saturday, but the sale itself is no less saddening when you consider it in its full context.
The Washington Post is a traditionally family-owned paper that has been standing since 1877, an existence that spans three centuries, which saw the publication win 47 Pulitzer Prize awards - six in just the year of 2008. Today, the paper has been sold to the head of a company, Amazon, which has yet to celebrate its twentieth birthday.
In a world that has experienced the Internet with ease of access on every smartphone, tablet and laptop in sight and watched it slowly strangle all forms of print media, it is almost all too fitting that one of the most untouchable publications has been bought out by one of the many billionaires who have made their money off of the tech boom, which contributed to the overall decline and potential demise of print media.
It's a move that Donald Graham, The Washington Post Company's CEO, implied was necessary, in a statement that sounded less like it came from a businessman and more like a sad parent, forced to give up a child to parents who could take care of it.
"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," Graham is quoted as saying by USA Today. "I, along with [Post CEO and publisher] 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. 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."
Bezos' recent acquisition of the reputable paper is all part of a recent spree of purchases that he has made in today's newspaper flea market. The Amazon CEO also bought other D.C. area publications, including the Express newspaper, Fairfax County Times and El Tiempo Latino .
As for the The Washington Post Company itself, the actual enterprise that owned the paper, it will hold on to its other properties, such as SAT-prepping Kaplan, Inc., Slate Magazine and various real estate interests in the downtown Washington area. Basically, the company will maintain ownership of everything besides the actual Post itself, which after being sold, prompted its now-former parent company's stock into a sharp rise in value (the Washington Post Co. rose by 5 percent on the stock market hours after the sale).
The suggestion of that very fact, that even a great newspaper these days is a bad thing to have, might be shocking at first. But, then again, nothing regarding newspapers, money and profit is surprising in a world that is witnessing the slow and painful death of print.
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