Last year Jeff Bezos, the American founder of Amazon, said publicly that There won't be printed newspapers in 20 years. On Monday he spent 250 million dollars of his own money to buy The Washington Post, one of the most respected newspapers in the United States. How Mr Bezos reconciles his prediction with his purchase is likely to determine the fate of more newspapers than the Post, and not only in America.
The Post had been a family-owned newspaper for eighty years but it has been losing readers, advertising and money for seven consecutive years and not even cutting the news staff by half has stopped the rot. Clearly, Mr Bezos has the money to invest in the newspaper but that does not mean that believes it is a viable proposition in its present form. In a letter to the staff this week he said, The internet is transforming almost every element of the news business...There is no map. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.
The Washington Post will always be remembered as the newspaper whose reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story in 1973.
Last month, with the UK's Guardian, it broke the Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency story. But a keen news sense is no longer enough to keep a newspaper in business.