Is it a trophy purchase or a chance to breathe new life into the Washington Post – one of the world’s most famous newspapers?
In a surprise move, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who made his vast fortune from internet retailing, is to buy the paper at a time when print is suffering from a decline in advertising revenue and readership.
The Post’s past is well known; it is the paper that brought down a president, discovering the Watergate scandal that led Richard Nixon to resign. But its future has been less certain.
Bezos has the means to re-envision the business model of a struggling industry – his personal fortune is estimated at 25 billion dollars – but does he have the vision?
The Post’s parent company makes a profit from many other ventures, including cable TV and education and health care services, but its newspaper division lost nearly 15 million dollars between April and June.
Print advertising revenue fell four percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, while sales of papers were down more than seven percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2012.
Bezos has promised “changes” without giving details, adding: “We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.”
Many newspapers have been experimenting with ways of surviving in the internet age, can he find the magic formula?
It has been noted that with this purchase he gets a lot of information about the Washington Post’s readers, which would perhaps be useful in figuring out what they might want to buy from Amazon.