Media outlets nationwide have been flooded with the biggest media news of the week: the sale of the Washington Post to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos for $250 million. Everybody has an opinion, too. By Tuesday at noon, the lead story in the Post had more than 5,000 comments from readers. It is personal for almost everyone in the Washington area, but most of all for members of the Graham family, including the newspaper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth. In a phone interview on Tuesday, she answered our questions:
How long did you carry around the secret?
We started the process at the end of last year.
How wide a circle did you include in keeping the secret?
It was a very, very small circle.
Are you impressed with how you kept a lid on it?
Utterly shocked, particularly in a newsroom.
Did you have an emotional bridge you had to cross?
Don and I both did. It’s extremely emotional. Our family identity is so intertwined with the Post. But it was a process, an ongoing process, and that helped. It was never just one day.
What was the last hurdle?
I don’t know that there was a last hurdle, other than what was best for the Post, not what was best for us. In Jeff we believe we have found a guy who can bring everything to the table. He shared the values of the Grahams and the company.
Did he know your grandmother?
Yes, he did.
What would she think of this?
She would be sad. It was her father who bought the paper. But she was also very rational and she always understood running the Post was a public trust. She adored Jeff. She had tremendous respect for him.
When will he first visit the newsroom?
In the next several weeks.
Were they any meetings of family only?
Never. We run it like a professional public company. It was me and the board.
What did it feel like when it was made public?
A relief to get it out. No longer living with a secret. We were worried about people’s reactions. We wanted them to understand this was a great opportunity and for the right reasons.
Are you pleased with the public reaction?
Very pleased. People are sad for the Graham family and grateful to Don and excited to have a new opportunity under a guy who has defined himself with the internet.
Where will you be a year from now?
I hope I’ll be right here. I’m honored Jeff asked me to transition. He said, “I have a job and I love my job.” He’s made clear he’s not going to be involved in the day-to-day operations. I serve at his pleasure.