In a move that has shocked the media world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has bought the Washington Post for $250 million (£162 million).

Washington Post Sold to Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos
The Washington Post, which has been in the Graham family for 80 years has been sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250million. (Credit: Reuters) Reuters

The purchase by online retail magnate Bezos will bring to an end the 80 year stewardship of the Washington Post by the Graham family. Bezos will purchase the newspaper, and associated titles, in a personal capacity and the sale has nothing to do with Amazon.

The announcement came via the Post's own website and very few people, including the dozens of investigative reporters at the newspaper were aware of the deal taking place.

A quick survey of Washington Post staff on Twitter confirms the surprise felt throughtout the organisation following the announcement.

Berlin correspondent for the paper, Michael Birnaum, summed up a lot of people's reactions, simply saying: "I am floored." More paid tribute to the Graham family, with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Wasington Post columnist Gene Weingarten putting his faith in Don Graham, saying: "If Don says this was the right thing to do, I trust him."


The Washington Post is most famous for its uncovering of the Watrergate scandal which led to the resignation of US president Richard Nixon in 1974. More recently the Post was also involved in the publication of top secret US intelligence documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The main reason given for the sale was a familiar one in the newspaper industry over the past decade - money. The rise of the internet and the move from print to digital and the ensuing issues that caused for traditional organisations like the Post was also a major factor.


In a letter to staff announcing his decision to sell The Post, Donald Graham, The Post Co.'s chief executive said: "Every member of my family started out with the same emotion - shock - in even thinking about. But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings.

"The Post could have survived under the company's ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future. But we wanted to do more than survive. I'm not saying this guarantees success, but it gives us a much greater chance of success."


The facts speak for themselves. The Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division, of which the Post newspaper is the most prominent part, has suffered a 44% decline in operating revenue over the past six years. Print circulation has dwindled too, falling an additional 7% daily and Sundays during the first half of this year.

Speaking in an interview on Monday, Bezos called the Post an "important institution" but stopped short of giving details of any specific plans he might have in mind for the title:

"I don't want to imply that I have a worked-out plan," he said. "This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation.

"There would be change with or without new ownership," he said. "But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners."

The day-to-day operation of the newspaper will continue as normal with publisher Katherine Weymouth and executive editor Martin Baron continuing to oversee operations. There are no plans to layoff any of the 2,000 staff currently employeed by the newpaper.