Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos buys The Washington Post

In news that sent shockwaves through the publishing industry, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has bought The Washington Post for $250 million. To be clear, this is not an Amazon acquisition, this is Jeff Bezos personally writing a check out of his own fortune for $250 million to buy a newspaper. 

It was apparent in the official announcement that came earlier this afternoon that most of the staff was pretty shocked, as you can see from the irony in this statement.

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.

But shocked as they were, they were still somewhat alright with the idea of being owned by Bezos.

“Every member of my family started out
with the same emotion—shock—in even thinking about” selling The Post,
said Donald Graham, the Post Co.’s chief executive, in an interview
Monday. “But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it
altered my feelings.”

Added Graham, “The Post could have survived
under the company’s ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable
future. But we wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this
guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Although it may not be in the best shape financially, the Post is still one of the most influential newspapers in the country, especially in the nation’s capital. Will this become a vehicle for Bezos’ political agenda or will he promise to stay out of the way. Here’s what he said in a statement.

Bezos, in an interview, called The Post “an important institution”
and expressed optimism about its future. “I don’t want to imply that I
have a worked-out plan,” he said. “This will be uncharted terrain and it
will require experimentation.”

He said, “There would be change with or without new ownership.
But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the
values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the
readers, not the owners.”

Here’s a sobering fact for journalists. In an age where Tumblr, a platform inhabited mostly by emo-teens and porn, sold for $1.1 billion, a historic 130 year old newspaper sold for less than a quarter of that amount.

Here’s what the Twitterati were saying:

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