Bezos buys The Washington Post. Will he follow in the Grahams’ philanthropic footsteps?

You’ve all heard the news already, but how could the sale of The Washington Post not be our top story? Yesterday, rather unexpectedly, the Graham family announced the sale of its newspaper to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

– In his statement to The Post’s employees, Bezos says that the “values of The Post do not need changing” and its leadership team will remain at the helm, including publisher Katharine Weymouth.

– Here is Weymouth’s letter to employees.

– And here’s a history of the the Graham family.

One of the best qualities of the Graham family has been its deep commitment to our region and its residents. Over many decades, the family has been a major philanthropic force through The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the Philip L. Graham Fund, and The Washington Post Co., among others.

Bezos’ philanthropic strategies aren’t as clear. Amazon is not a philanthropic player in its hometown of Seattle, for example. And Bezos himself hasn’t traditionally been known for his giving, though he and his wife make occasional large donations to specific causes. Hopefully, he will begin to follow the Grahams’ example when he takes over the paper. (WaPoSeattle Times, Time, Examiner)

ADVOCACY | For Washington insiders, August is typically seen as a quiet month. But Tamara reflects on her time working on the Hill and says that this is actually the time when members of Congress are at home, focused on their constituents. As such, it’s a perfect time for you (yes, you!) to reach out to your representatives and make your voice heard about the many challenges facing our region. (Daily, 8/6)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Phil Buchanan both critiques and praises Peter Buffett’s recent call for a philanthropic paradigm shift. He calls out Buffett’s misunderstanding of the nonprofit sector’s growth and challenges his views on the motivations of the wealthiest donors. On the other hand, he says (Chronicle, 8/6):

He is right to question the current fetishization of markets among many in philanthropy. For some, this part of Mr. Buffett’s argument clearly touches a nerve.

On a related note, Peter Buffett is also correct, I believe, to resist the alluring fiction of easy answers. He argues that this work cannot be reduced to the question “What’s the return on investment?”

HOUSING | Manna report offers lessons on inclusionary zoning and affordable housing (Elevation, 8/6)

WORKFORCE | “Whatever wages are going to be you’re always going to have complaints.” Those words were spoken by Mayor Vincent Gray, who apparently has never uttered the words, “If I had a million dollars….”

Anyhow, Gray still hasn’t made up his mind on what he’ll do if he ever gets the living wage bill, and he seems reluctant to support higher wages in general. (WAMU, 8/6)

CRIME | Prince George’s County police will spend 90 days tracking down illegal guns. So if you have an illegal gun, you better hide it for three months. (WaPo, 8/6)

Unfortunately, James Doohan is no longer around to announce this, but a 15 million-year old whale skull was found on the banks of the Potomac River about an hour south of D.C.

Oh, also, you might want to start wearing a helmet. That meteor that blew out windows in Russia might be the first of many from a cluster.  

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