Amazon founder buys Washington Post

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who helped bring books into the digital age, is going after another pillar of "old media" - the Washington Post.
  • Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos plans to buy The Washington Post (AP Photo)
    Last updated: 06 August 2013, 06:27 BST

    Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who helped bring books into the digital age, is going after another pillar of "old media" - the Washington Post.

    Mr Bezos, 49, struck a deal announced yesterday to buy the venerable Washington broadsheet and other newspapers for 250 million dollars (£163 million).

    It was a startling demonstration of how the internet has created winners and losers and transformed the media landscape.

    Mr Bezos pioneered online shopping, first by selling books out of his Seattle garage in 1995, then just about everything else. In doing so, he has amassed a 25 billion dollar (£16.3 billion) personal fortune, based on the most recent estimates by Forbes magazine.

    Meanwhile the Washington Post, like most newspapers, has been losing readers and advertisers to the internet while watching its value plummet. The newspaper became internationally known after its investigation of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the basis for the Robert Redford film All The President's Men.

    Mr Bezos is buying the newspaper as an individual, and Amazon is not involved.

    He told Post employees in a letter that he would keep 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 would be changes coming.

    "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," he 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."

    Mr Bezos said that he understands the Post's "critical role" in Washington and its values will not change.

    "The paper's duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners," he said in his letter to Post employees. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we'll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely."

    Last updated: 06 August 2013, 06:27 BST

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