After managing The Washington Post for four decades, the Graham family has decided to sell the beloved newspaper. But it isn't being sold to some major media conglomerate. Instead, its new owner is Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Seattle-based Amazon.
Bezos will pay $250 million in cash in exchange for ownership of the newspaper and certain affiliated publications. Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy magazine are not part of the transaction.
The sale process is expected to close within about 60 days.
What Bezos, a high-profile tech entrepreneur, plans to do with the newspaper is not yet clear. “I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington D.C. and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” Bezos said in a statement announcing the unexpected sale. “Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.”
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Last week, The Washington Post Company reported $138.4 million in revenue during the second quarter for its newspaper publishing division, down 1 percent compared to the same period last year. The company attributed the loss to a general decline in advertising revenues. The newspaper publishing division also reported an operating loss of $14.8 million in the second quarter, compared to a loss of $12.6 million during last year's second quarter.
"The deal represents a sudden and stunning turn of events for The Post, Washington’s leading newspaper for decades and a powerful force in shaping the nation’s politics and policy," Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi wrote on WashingtonPost.com today. "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."
The Washington Post isn't the only major U.S. newspaper to change hands recently. This weekend it was announced that John Henry, co-owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, had agreed to purchase the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. for $70 million.