"Hard to imagine the Post without the Grahams," wrote East Asia Correspondent Chico Harlan in a tweet. "Don emailed his writers, knew their names."
Writer Gene Weingarten tweeted, "If Don Graham says this was the right thing to do, I trust him."
Fredrick Kunkle, a metro reporter and a union leader at The Post, said there is also apprehension among staff.
"The Graham family has been revered in this town, rightly so," he said, adding he saw at least one person at the meeting wipe away tears. "We all have a lot of questions."
Allen & Co., an investment banking firm which held a high-level conference for media and technology executives in Sun Valley, Idaho, last month, was named as an adviser to the deal. Bezos and Graham have been known to frequent the conference.
To observers, the Amazon chief is eminently qualified to be a newspaper owner: He's rich, he's innovative and he's willing to live with slim profits. That's proven by his running of Amazon since its foundation. Last month, Amazon.com reported an unexpected loss in the April-June quarter even though revenue grew 22 percent to $15.7 billion.
"Some other buyers might see the Post as a thing to drain money out of," said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. "There's little reason to think (Bezos would) fall into that category."
Rick Edmonds, a media and business analyst at The Poynter Institute, a journalism school, compared Bezos' purchase of the Post to billionaire John Henry's $70 million purchase of The Boston Globe, which was announced Saturday.
The newspaper transactions remove established publications from publicly traded parent companies that had to answer to shareholders who demanded good quarterly financial results.
"This means putting the Post in the hands of a wealthy individual who can take as long as he needs and spend as much money as he wishes in keeping the paper strong," Edmonds said. "That's a much better situation than a company with other faster-growing businesses trying to justify that same investment."
Alan Mutter, a media consultant and former newspaper editor, said this deal marks the first time a newspaper has been bought by a "digital native," not someone entrenched in the print medium.
"Here's a guy who's going to re-envision the newspaper from top to bottom and we'll see what we get," Mutter said.
Besides The Washington Post and its website, Bezos is taking the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.
The soon-to-be-renamed Washington Post Co. will retain Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy magazine, as well as the Post's headquarters building in downtown Washington.
Newspaper revenue has shriveled during the past eight years even as many publishers charged readers more for their print editions and began imposing fees for digital access, too.
The Post Co.'s annual newspaper revenue has plunged 39 percent from $957 million in 2005 to $582 million last year. Meanwhile, the company's newspaper division has swung from an annual operating profit of $125 million to an operating loss of $54 million last year.
Readership of the print editions has also plummeted during the past decade. In 2002, The Washington Post's paid weekday circulation averaged nearly 768,000 copies, according to regulatory filings. By last year, the Post's weekday paid circulation had fallen to an average of just under 481,000, a 37 percent drop.
The hard times are reflected in the Post Co.'s stock price, which hit a high of $999.50 near the end of 2004. The shares closed Monday at $568.70, a 43 percent decline from the peak.
Newspaper analyst Ken Doctor of Outsell Inc. said the Grahams likely realized that the family lacked the financial wherewithal to endure the turbulence still facing the industry.