The sale of the Washington Post Co.’s flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has created a buzz among journalists.
However, it may be a good sign for the industry. The 49-year-old Seattle billionaire has agreed to pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications.
The good news is that newspapers are still attractive to investors even though many have struggled especially in the last 10 years to stay afloat because of declining print advertising, the loss of subscribers and the need to build a stronger online presence. Bezos told the Lost Angeles Times he is “very optimistic” about The Post’s future.
He said he had no radical changes planned in the editorial operations, however, he said the paper will need to “invent” and “experiment,” stressing Internet content and the changing habits of readers.
Bezos joins billionaire Warren Buffett in substantially investing in newspapers. The Omaha World-Herald reports: “Since the December 2011 purchase of The World-Herald, (Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Buffett’s company) has purchased more than two dozen daily newspapers in small and medium-sized markets, cities where Buffett said residents have a strong sense of community and where newspapers report local news of interest to readers.”
Buffett owns a share of the Washington Post Co. and is a close adviser to the Graham family, which for four generations owned the newspaper in the nation’s capital.