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Sold: Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek

The sale of the Washington Post cost $250 million in cash – and the new owner is the founder of Amazon.com.

Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos
Image: Matt Sayles/AP/Press Association Images

TWO OF AMERICA’S most prominent newspapers have been sold to new owners.

The Washington Post – which is known for breaking the story on the Watergate scandal – announced that the Washington Post Co is to sell its flagship newspaper to Jeffrey P Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com.

The sale is costing Bezos €250 million in cash – and WaPo says that Amazon will have no role in the newspaper, as Bezos will become the sole owner.

Pic: NYCJim

The deal involves only the newspaper assets of the Washington Post Co, including its free commuter daily The Express, the Spanish language newspaper El Tiempo Latino, and Robinson Terminal, a warehouse asset.

The Washington Post Co will retain the large educational testing service Kaplan, Foreign Policy magazine, Slate.com, and a cable television operation, as well as the Post’s downtown Washington headquarters.

The paper itself admits that few knew that a sale was on the way for the paper, and says that “several veteran employees cried” when Post publisher Katharine Weymouth and the chairman and chief executive of Post Co, Donald E Graham, announced the sale.

Graham admitted that he and his niece, Weymouth, “have no answers” to the challenge the newspaper faces, after seven years of falling revenues.

I, along with Katharine Weymouth and our board of directors, decided to sell only after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges made us wonder if there might be another owner who would be better for the Post.

Weymouth told employees that the sale was “a day that my family and I never expected to come”, but said that the newspaper’s mission “does not change”.

Jeff knows as well as anyone the opportunities that come with revolutionary technology when we understand how to make the most of it. Under his ownership, we will be able to accelerate the pace and quality of innovation.

Boston Globe

The news has also broken that the Boston Globe newspaper has also been sold.

The new principal owner of the Globe is Boston Red Sox owner John W Henry. The baseball team owner paid the New York Times $70m in cash for the paper.

The NYT bought the Boston Globe for $1.1bn 20 years ago, so today’s price for the paper demonstrates the changing face of the newspaper business.

Newsweek

The third announcement of the sale of a publication came when Newsweek was sold to IBT media, seven months after it cancelled its print version.

IBT Media is acquiring Newsweek and the publication’s online operations from IAC/InterActiveCorp. The purchase does not include The Daily Beast, also owned by IAC.

“We believe in the Newsweek brand and look forward to growing it, fully transformed to the digital age,” said Etienne Uzac, co-founder and chief executive officer of IBT Media.

Launched by a former Time magazine reporter in 1933, Newsweek reached a print circulation of three million by the early 1990s and published regional editions around the world.

However the magazine, like other print publications, struggled to cope with the flood of instant and often free news in the digital world and saw its revenue steadily decline.

In 2010 California billionaire Sidney Harman bought Newsweek from The Washington Post Group for a symbolic $1, and took over $40 million in liabilities. Newsweek then merged with The Daily Beast, owned by IAC.

The magazine ended its weekly print edition in December 2012, and IAC announced in May that it would sell Newsweek to concentrate on The Daily Beast.

Read: Final Newsweek print edition cover unveiled>

Read: Newsweek to scrap print edition and go digital>

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