The Root Was Not Included In The Big Washington Post Purchase
The media industry was shocked by yesterday’s news that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, had purchased The Washington Post for $250 million. However, Bezos didn’t purchase all of The Washington Post Company. As part of the deal, properties including African-American-focused site The Root, will stay put.
According to the deal, Bezos (and not Amazon) has purchased The Washington Post newspaper, WashingtonPost.com, the Express newspaper, the Gazette Newspapers and Southern Maryland Newspapers in suburban Washington, the Fairfax County Times, the Spanish-language newspaper El Tiempo Latino, the Robinson Terminal production plant in Springfield, and a printing operation nearby in Gaithersburg, MD. The Graham family, which has run The Washington Post for 80 years, will hang on to the company’s Washington DC headquarters, the Kaplan education business, Foreign Policy magazine, the digital development group WaPo Labs, land the company owns along the Potomac River, the TV station Cable ONE and both The Root and Slate websites.
Bezos plans to take his properties private. The Washington Post Company name will also change to reflect the split. The deal should be finalized in 60 days. The Graham family (the paper had been run by CEO and chairman Donald E. Graham, and his niece, publisher Katherine Weymouth) had been seeking a buyer for some months. These executives along with the paper’s president and GM Stephen P. Hills; executive editor Martin Baron; and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt will stay on with the newspaper. Bezos’ personal wealth is said to be in the $25 billion range, so he certainly has the money to invest in his new company. Still, in his comments about the sale, Bezos says he plans to remain hands off. He plans to stay in Washington state and the paper’s “values” will remain the same.
On news of the sale, the stock price for The Washington Post company has reached five-year highs. The paper’s operating revenue has fallen 44 percent over the past six years, WaPo reports.
We were in touch with The Root for information about what the future of the site will look like. In a statement, the site told MadameNoire Business:
“The sale of the Washington Post paper and its affiliates to Jeff Bezos will in no way affect the operations or editorial activities of TheRoot.com. The Root will conduct business as usual, and continue to be the go-to source for news, culture and commentary affecting African Americans across the nation.”
Clearly this is a time of great transition not just for The Root and The Washington Post, but for the media (and black media) in general. We’ll keep an eye on how things develop.