|Mon Aug 5 2013 17:44:24|
Amazon CEO Becomes Newspaper Magnate
By: Ina Steiner
In Boston these days, talk is all about Red Sox owner John Henry buying the Boston Globe from the Times Co. But leave it to Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos to trump that news - he is acquiring the Washington Post.
Bezos (not Amazon) is paying $250 million for the media conglomerate. And just to point out, we're not talking about Washington state - we're talking about the storied Washington Post in the nation's capital, the paper best known for its coverage of the Watergate scandal in the 70s when Katharine Graham was publisher.
The Washington Post, which owns Kaplan and other entities, published Bezos' letter to employees. In a reference to a famous line from a Watergate henchman, he showed a sense of humor: "While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Graham's example, I’ll be ready."
As CEO of Amazon, Bezos has studied publishing, media and entertainment, as part of his work on the Kindle. (It will be interesting to see if he has better luck taking a mainstream publishing outlet into the cyber age than others.) And he understands about lobbying in DC thanks to Amazon.com, most notably on the online sales tax issue, but many other issues as well.
While this may be good news for Washington Post readers thanks to Bezos focus on the customer, it remains to be seen how reporters will fare. On the other hand, will Bezos use his position to try and influence coverage of Amazon, as Bostonians are asking of John Henry and the Red Sox?
It's always fun to think about other high-tech/ecommerce heads when one does something remarkable - any thoughts on how other founders or CEOs would run a publishing business?
Let us know your thoughts about Bezos as media mogul, and keep an eye out for Kenneth Corbin's take on the news in tomorrow's newsletter! (Link is now live.)