Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
It came out of nowhere, first hinted at on Twitter in early afternoon when a big meetiing in The Washington Post’s fabled newsroom was set for 4:15 pm. But no one expected this: the paper, and associated publications, are being sold to the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, for $250 million in cool cash.
Bezos, 49, said he was buying this himself—it was not an Amazon purchase. He has never owned a newspaper. On the other hand, he has been fairly successful in the online world.
It came just days after The New York Times dumped The Boston Globe at an even lower bargain rate.
James Fallows looks at the end-of-an-era significance of the Post sale here, and adds: “I think I’ll remember where I was when I first heard the news—via Twitter!—and I am sure it will be one of those episode-that-encapsulates-an-era occurrences. Newsweek’s demise, a long time coming, was a minor temblor by comparison; this is a genuine earthquake.” Alec MacGillis at The New Republic: Bezos is bad news. Josh Marshall of TPM: Three cheers for Bezos and the Post. David Cay Johnson at The National Memo: Major implications, including Bloomberg likely to buy New York Times next year.
For now, here’s the Post’s own story (see excerpt below). And Bezos’s “open letter” to Post staffers, which notes that they must feel “apprehension” but he promises they will stick to core journalistic values, claims no layoffs coming, and advises:
I won’t be leading The Washington Post day-to-day. I am happily living in ‘the other Washington’ where I have a day job that I love. Besides that, The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.
By the way, his reference to “body parts” and “wringer” and “Mrs. Graham” goes back to the Watergate days and what the Post’s publisher’s “tit” was supposed to face.