Solvency Dies in Darkness: Washington Post On Pace to Lose $100 Million This Year

July 24th, 2023 6:22 AM

The New York Times buried the lede in a story about Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos owning The Washington Post. It isn't quite profitable, you learn in the eighth paragraph: "The Post is on a pace to lose about $100 million in 2023, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s finances."

The headline doesn't include that eye-grabbing detail. It's just this:

A Decade Ago, Jeff Bezos Bought a Newspaper. Now He’s Paying Attention to It Again.

The Amazon founder, who purchased The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, has taken a more active role in the paper’s operations this year.

Yes, you can imagine he'd take a "more active role" with this nagging problem. Post employees were delighted a liberal billionaire bought the paper, so they didn't have to be too worried about profits. "Prestige journalism" for the liberals isn't working out right now, even as the paper extends its Trump obsession forward.

"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," Times reporters Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson recounted, which the Post itself noted when they shoved out publisher Fred Ryan in June.

The Times reported after an initial surge of interest that lasted several years, and following his decision to step down as Amazon’s chief executive, Mr. Bezos receded somewhat at The Post, according to two people familiar with his interactions with the newsroom." But that changed in January, when executive editor Sally Buzbee brought Bezos an urgent message: "Morale was low at The Post. Much of it, she said, stemmed from missteps by the newspaper’s chief business executive, Mr. Ryan, according to two people familiar with her remarks."

It appears Buzbee succeeded in winning the power struggle with Ryan. 

Ms. Buzbee’s relationship with Mr. Ryan had been fraught. He had accused Cameron Barr, her top deputy, of leaking information about The Post’s operations to the press, according to three people familiar with his comments, and had sought his ouster. 

Isn't it amusing when media companies can't stand leakers? The paper has suffered from a lot of departures of managers and reporters (some of them to the Times). But the Times still wants to imply that this financial problem isn't a media-bias problem. "High-quality journalism" is always rewarded...with Pulitzer Prizes.

Mr. Ryan’s exit is seen among employees as a victory for Ms. Buzbee, whose relations with The Post’s newsroom have occasionally been strained since she joined from The Associated Press two years ago. The Post has continued to deliver high-quality journalism and in May won two Pulitzer Prizes for its reporting, while a book written by two Post reporters was awarded the general nonfiction prize.

One of those reporters -- Eli Saslow, who once gushed over Obama's chest muscles -- is now at the Times. The other is pro-abortion soapbox artist Caroline Kitchener. defines her advocacy as "unflinching reporting."

For unflinching reporting that captured the complex consequences of life after Roe v. Wade, including the story of a Texas teenager who gave birth to twins after new restrictions denied her an abortion.

The Post is still tinkering around the edges, rebooting its "Style" section this fall, and Bezos has "weighed in" on a new project for The Post’s opinion section. "The initiative — which doesn’t yet have an official name — is exploring a forum for readers in cities across the United States to submit their own opinions and commentary." Let's guess it's nothing that will upset the rabid liberalism of the paper's inside-the-Beltway subscribers.