Jun 12, 2023 - Economy

Washington Post publisher leaving after 9 years

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Fred Ryan, the longtime media executive and political adviser, will leave his position as publisher of the Washington Post after nine years, he told staff Monday in a memo obtained by Axios.

State of play: Patty Stonesifer, a former Microsoft executive who later served as the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been appointed interim CEO of the Washington Post.

  • Ryan's last day is Aug. 1.
  • Stonesifer holds board seats at several major companies and non-profits, including Amazon, Rockefeller Foundation and others. She most recently served as CEO and president of Martha's Table, a D.C. nonprofit.
  • She will oversee the Washington Post's leadership team during the transition period.
  • In a memo to the company obtained by Axios, Ryan called Stonesifer "an exceptional individual that I hold in the highest regard."

Details: In an internal memo, Ryan said he's going to lead the nonpartisan Center on Public Civility at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute.

  • Prior to his role at The Post, Ryan was the CEO of Politico.

Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in a note to staff said he was "deeply grateful to Ryan" for his leadership and friendship over the years. 

  • "Fred has led The Post through a period of innovation, journalistic excellence, and growth," Bezos wrote. "His focus on the intersection of journalism and technology has been of great benefit to readers and has laid the foundation for future growth."

The big picture: Ryan's exit comes at a tumultuous time for the storied newspaper.

  • The Post, like many other publishers, has faced a brutal ad landscape in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Earlier this year, it cut 20 positions, and shut down its online gaming vertical and its kids vertical.
  • Ryan faced tensions with the paper's union amid the layoffs.

Between the lines: The company has lost several C-suite executives in the past year, including its chief product officer, chief information officer, chief communications officer, chief revenue officer and two managing editors.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional background and reporting.

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