WaPo on track to lose $100M in 2023 – 10 short years after Jeff Bezos buys newspaper

A decade after billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shelled out $250 million to buy The Washington Post, the iconic news outlet is “on a pace to lose about $100 million in 2023,” according to a recent report from The New York Times.

Hailed as “one of the most significant media acquisitions of the last decade” by Fox News Digital, The Post has faced lower-than-expected ad revenue and a drop of 500,000 paid subscribers, according to The Times.

“The Post is on a pace to lose about $100 million in 2023, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s finances; two other people briefed on the situation said the company was expecting to miss its forecasts for ad revenue this year,” The Times reported on Saturday. “The Post has struggled to increase the number of its paying customers since the 2020 election, when its digital subscriptions peaked at three million. It now has around 2.5 million.”

“[A]fter an initial surge of interest that lasted several years,” Bezos “receded somewhat at The Post,” two people familiar with “his interactions with the newsroom” told The Times.

In January, however, Sally Buzbee, who replaced Martin Baron as the outlet’s top editor, hit Bezos with an “urgent” reality check: “Morale was low at The Post.”

The man Bezos hired to replace Katharine Weymouth as publisher, former Politico chief executive Fred Ryan, had made “missteps,” Buzbee said, that largely led to the downgraded team spirit.

“Many at The Post had become frustrated with what they viewed as a stultified business culture over which Mr. Ryan presided, and had relayed these concerns to Ms. Buzbee,” The Times states.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and top editors and executives fled The Post, leading to increased involvement from Bezos, who “made a rare appearance in the newsroom” in January and “sat in on a morning news meeting.”

Bezos has also “personally weighed in on an experimental project being developed for The Post’s opinion section” that promises an “opportunity to reach readers who may have tuned out the news, according to four people familiar with its development.”

In September, WaPo is also expected to unveil a re-vamped reboot of the 54-year-old Style section.

“There’s a sense of hope, which we haven’t had for a long time,” longtime Post journalist Sally Quinn said.

Also optimistic is Patty Stonesifer, The Post’s interim chief executive, who said Bezos is happy with “every dollar invested” into the outlet.

“I’m very enthusiastic about what we can do here at The Washington Post in the decade ahead,” she said in a statement. “Jeff’s second decade of ownership of The Post should be even more exciting.”

On Twitter, many speculated that $100 million is nothing to Bezos if it means he can control the national narrative.

“He’s worth approximately 152.6 Billion,” tweeted one user. “Losing 0.066% of that is nothing for him to control the narrative he wants to.”

“He bought it to control narratives, not make money,” stated another.

“Go woke,” cautioned a third, “go broke.”

Melissa Fine

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