The Washington Post on Saturday named news media veteran William Lewis as its new publisher and CEO at a critical time for newspaper, as it contends with financial trouble, a rapidly shifting media environment and a looming presidential election.
Lewis will assume the role on January 2, 2024, the Post said in a statement.
“Leading this bold media brand means building on my commitment to championing high-quality journalism and safeguarding our democratic values, while growing The Post’s business and advancing its impact to the next generation and beyond,” Lewis said in the statement.
Lewis will take the helm of one the nation’s most storied media properties at a time of change for American journalism in general and for the Washington Post in particular, where layoffs, declining readership and high expenses have dented morale.
Lewis, the founder, CEO and publisher of Gen-Z focused The News Movement, is a former CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, and the paper’s traffic surged in the years immediately after, particularly after former President Donald Trump took office.
But the paper of record in the nation’s capital has struggled to maintain readership in the post-Trump era. As with much of the news industry, the Washington Post has faced a reckoning as Americans’ reading habits have shifted in recent years.
Interim chief executive Patty Stonesifer previously told employees that the paper had “overshot on expenses” under former CEO Fred Ryan.
She also disclosed that the publication’s readership has plummeted since Trump’s White House exit, with its digital audience sinking by a staggering 28% since 2021. Digital subscriptions, Stonesifer added, had dropped 15%.
Previous publisher and chief executive Fred Ryan announced in June that he was stepping down after nearly a decade heading up the Washington Post.
While he helped lead the paper to more than a dozen Pulitzers and industry-wide acclaim, he also alienated much of the newsroom late last year when he abruptly announced layoffs.
“Ten years ago, I made a commitment to the future of The Washington Post, inspired by its ambitious and consequential journalism,” said Bezos in a statement. “Today, I stand confident in that future knowing it is in the hands of Will, an exceptional, tenacious industry executive whose background in fierce, award-winning journalism makes him the right leader at the right time.”
CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed reporting.
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