Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has bought one of the most prestigious newspapers in the US, The Washington Post, making it the second title there to go to private individuals in a few days.
On Saturday the New York Times divested the famous Boston Globe paper to John W. Henry, who also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, for just US$60m, having paid $1.1bn for it in 1993.
Bezos’ purchase of the Post, famous for breaking the Watergate scandal, for a reported US$250m will have many media commentators watching closely, with Amazon renowned to be one of the leading innovators in the online space.
In an open letter on the paper’s website he acknowledged the newspaper business was difficult adding : “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.
“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.
“Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.”
Although the company will not be officially linked to Amazon it could leverage some of the technologies the online retailer has developed in recent years, including e-readers like the Kindle.
The company is also known for its agile approach to change, famously holding that no internal team should be larger than two large pizzas would be enough to feed them.
Other newspaper assets acquired in the deal include the Fairfax County Times and Spanish language paper El Tiempo Latino, while the Post Co. will continue to be a publically traded company without the newspapers, under a different name.