May 11, 2021 - Economy

Washington Post names AP's Sally Buzbee as executive editor

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Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Washington Post has named Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee as its new executive editor, effective June 1.

Why it matters: Buzbee replaces legendary editor Marty Baron, who retired at the end of February. She will be the first woman to lead the newsroom in The Post's 144-year history.

What they're saying: "Sally Buzbee has an exceptional record of achievement and a tremendous wealth of experience in leading a global news organization," Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan wrote in a memo to staff.

  • “In an extensive search that included many of the best journalists in America, Sally stood out as the right person to lead The Post going forward. She is widely admired for her absolute integrity, boundless energy, and dedication to the essential role journalism plays in safeguarding our democracy.”

Between the lines: While Baron's retirement wasn't a surprise, his departure seemed rather abrupt to media insiders, especially given that The Post hadn't yet hired an editor to replace him.

  • The Post named managing editor Cameron Barr as interim editor in late February, just before Baron stepped aside.

Be smart: Baron's successor has been the subject of intense speculation for months. Sources told Axios that the decision was made by a very tight-knit group of top executives, including The Post's publisher Fred Ryan and its owner Jeff Bezos.

  • Other names that were floated for the role, as Axios previously reported, include former Post managing editor and ESPN executive Kevin Merida, who was recently named executive editor at the Los Angeles Times, and National Geographic editor in chief Susan Goldberg.

The big picture: Buzbee will be tasked with continuing to grow The Post's reputation for strong, investigative journalism, while also being open to experimentation with new technologies and ideas.

  • She will also need to navigate the Post's newsroom through difficult questions around the role of activism in journalism, especially at a time when news companies are expected do more to address diversity and inclusion.
  • The Post has been able to successfully transition its brand into the digital era under Bezos' ownership and Baron's editorial leadership. Under Baron, The Post launched a major video unit and hired a full-time TikTok reporter. It expanded its tech and business coverage and made new investments in data journalism.

What to watch: The AP announced it will immediately begin its search for a new executive editor, which it expects to take a few months.

  • "As AP’s top editor, Buzbee has directed AP’s global news report throughout the Trump administration, the #MeToo movement, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, protests over racial injustice and the 2020 U.S. election," AP said in a press release. 
  • "This is bittersweet news for the AP. Sally has been an exceptional leader, guiding AP’s journalists and news report through some of the most pivotal news events of our time," said AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt.

Go deeper: Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post editor Marty Baron retires

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