WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 5, 2013) — The National Association of Black Journalists is surprised and saddened by the Graham family’s decision to sale The Washington Post to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos. This is a momentous development for our industry that reinforces the continued uncertainty at America’s newspapers and raises concerns about the fate of journalists at the Post, particularly its many NABJ members.
"We are always concerned when media properties change hands because there are usually negative consequences for the staffs,” said NABJ President Bob Butler.
The Grahams have treated the Post as a public trust dedicated to delivering the finest, most responsible journalism. They succeeded where the owners of other newspapers failed, ensuring that the newsroom had essential resources and remained committed to diversity both in content and hiring. Many in our industry believed that if ever a newspaper owner could successfully innovate through these difficult financial times, it would have been the Graham family.
But we also see reasons for encouragement in the choice of Bezos as the Post’s buyer. The Graham family and Bezos have stated that the sale would not prompt layoffs. Bezos has said he will retain the Post’s leadership, including Graham scion Katherine Weymouth as publisher. We especially hope that decision will extend to Post managing editor Kevin Merida, an award-winning NABJ member and the first African American to hold the newspaper’s No. 2 editorial job.
We regard as a positive for the Post that its prospective new owner has a strong record at Amazon of reinvesting in the company’s growth. Bezos also has a celebrated reputation for technology innovation, which should bode well for the Post’s future.
"If the sale had to happen, it’s good that we were sold to a tech person because that’s the direction the business is going,” said Former NABJ President Vanessa Williams, who is an editor on the Post’s National Desk.
We invite Bezos to work with NABJ to ensure that diversity is an imperative in the Post’s growth strategy. We look forward to forging the kind of lasting relationship with him that we have enjoyed with the Grahams.