Amazon founder Bezos to buy the Washington Post

Mon Aug 5, 2013 6:36pm EDT
 
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos will buy the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million in a surprise deal that ends the Graham family's 80-year ownership and hands one of the country's most influential publications to the tech entrepreneur.

Bezos, hailed by many as a visionary who helped transform Internet retail, called his acquisition a personal endeavor and reassured Post employees and readers he will preserve the paper's journalistic tradition, while driving innovation.

The acquisition, the latest in a flurry of recent media deals including the New York Times Co's sale of the Boston Globe for $70 million, is a further indication of the unprecedented challenges newspapers face as advertising revenue and readership decline.

Shares of the Washington Post Co climbed more than 5 percent to $599.85 after hours - their highest level in almost five years.

"I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post's values will not change," Bezos said in a letter addressed to employees and published on the newspaper's website.

"There will of course be change at the Post over the coming years. That's essential and would have happened with or without new ownership," he added. "We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment."

Bezos, who has built Seattle-based Amazon.com into a shopping and online technology force over the last two decades, made a small foray into media earlier this year with a small investment in Internet news site Business Insider.

The Washington Post, home to journalists as the "Watergate" team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, is among the rapidly dwindling number of U.S. newspapers with a profitable business - a function of the rapid migration of readers to Internet and other digital media sources.   Continued...

 
A television cameraman takes up a position as people walk by the entrance of the Washington Post headquarters in Washington, August 5, 2013. Amazon Inc founder Jeff Bezos has agreed to buy the newspaper assets of the Washington Post Co , including its flagship daily, for $250 million. REUTERS/Stelios Varias (UNITED STATES - Tags: MEDIA BUSINESS)