The Washington Post, the seventh largest daily newspaper in the United States and one of the country's most renowned publications, is being sold to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, in a $250 million all-cash deal that surprised the media industry on Monday afternoon. Just this weekend, the New York Times Company had announced the sale of The Boston Globe, making Bezos' acquisition of The Washington Post the second large-scale newspaper deal in the past few days.
The deal also marks the end of an era in newspaper publishing, as the selling Graham family, whose ownership of the Post dates back 80 years, is succeeded by Jeff Bezos, an internet entrepreneur best-known for building the world's largest e-commerce company. The fact that his company, Amazon.com, has recently ventured into digital publishing, has possibly been the only hint that Bezos could be interested in buying a newspaper. Hence not only the sale itself, but also the name of the buyer came as a surprise.
Just as many other newspapers, The Washington Post has been struggling with declines in circulation and ad sales for some time now. Average daily circulation dropped 38 percent in the past 10 years and the Post has been slower than some of its rivals in adapting to new digital realities. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, daily digital circulation of The Washington Post averaged at 42,313 between October 2012 and March 2013. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported digital circulation more than 20 times as high. Maybe an internet whiz such as Jeff Bezos is just the right guy to fix that. At the very least it will be interesting to observe what Bezos' vision for the newspaper's future is.