“Some other buyers might see the Post as a thing to drain money out of,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. “There’s little reason to think [Bezos would] fall into that category.”
The Poynter Institute’s media and business analyst, Rick Edmonds, compared Bezos’ purchase of the Post to billionaire John Henry’s $70 million purchase of The Boston Globe, which was announced Saturday. The newspaper transactions remove well-loved, established publications from publicly traded parent companies that had to answer to shareholders who demanded good quarterly financial results.
“This means putting the Post in the hands of a wealthy individual who can take as long as he needs and spend as much money as he wishes in keeping the paper strong,” Edmonds said. “That’s a much better situation than a company with other faster-growing businesses trying to justify that same investment.”
Alan Mutter, a media consultant and former newspaper editor, said this deal marks the first time a newspaper has been bought by a “digital native,” not someone entrenched in the print medium: “Here’s a guy who’s going to re-envision the newspaper from top to bottom and we’ll see what we get.”
The soon-to-be-renamed Washington Post company will retain Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy magazine, as well as the Post’s headquarters building in downtown Washington.
Bezos said in his letter to employees that he’d be keeping his “day job” as Amazon CEO and a life in “the other Washington” where Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle are based. But he made clear there’d be changes.
“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,” Bezos wrote. “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.”