Every time a bell rings… Marissa Mayer acquires another start-up. Top companies scoop up promising apps and ideas so often that we barely notice acquisitions anymore – unless they’re in the $1 billion arena. But Amazon founder Jeff Bezos just took a different turn in the marketplace; he bought the Washington Post for a cool $250 million.
Let’s get one thing straight, this is not Amazon buying the Washington Post. The New York Times was quick to point out that Bezos is paying for the newspaper out of his personal bank account, not company money. They compared buying The Washington Post to buying a yacht or private jet. All the other billionaires have a newspaper, he should to.
Bezos sent a letter to the staff of The Washington Post yesterday addressing any concerns they might have and reviewing the transition. In short: fear not, very little is changing.
I won’t be leading The Washington Post day-to-day…The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.
The Post reported that Bezos will take the newspaper off of the public market, which makes sense considering how fast the industry is spiraling down the drain. In a world of apps, RSS feeds, and social media, even the most die-hard newspaper lover has to admit that there are faster and better ways to stay on top of current events. With the rapid growth of smartphones and e-readers, newspapers have joined the ranks of horse-drawn carriages in central park. They a are nostalgic reminder of what once was, but impractical for modern-day use.
The Times article paints newspapers as the new non-profits. Wealthy business-people became patrons with a few million dollars and try to keep them from losing too much money – a task that’s easier said than done.
Back in April, the Newspaper Association of America reported that national newspaper revenue only dropped 2%, which made losses considerably less than anticipated. It showed that the newspaper industry might be moving from a gushing laceration to a slow bleed.
The main reason that the newspaper industry isn’t reporting losses is because it’s moving away from reporting the news in general. Local papers are using their resources for commercial printing, event marketing, and delivery. They aren’t even gaining as much revenue from advertising as they were before. As contradictory as it sounds, the newspaper industry is gaining revenue because it’s not investing in newspapers.
Despite the struggles that print media faces, many people – including myself – are still loyal to newspapers. They enjoy flipping through daily papers while they watch the news and receive phone notifications. It’s an experience that some are adamant on not giving up. This sentimentality is keeping the industry going and convincing billionaires to buy newspapers in the same way they buy Renoirs or Monets.