Nov 4, 2023 - Economy

The Washington Post names Will Lewis as new CEO

The Post's K Street HQ. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Washington Post on Saturday announced Will Lewis would become publisher and chief executive of the historic newspaper company, effective January 2, 2024.

Why it matters: Lewis, a former journalist turned media executive who has served as CEO of Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones, will be tasked with making the company profitable again and elevating employee morale following a difficult year.

What they're saying: "Ten years ago, I made a commitment to the future of The Washington Post, inspired by its ambitious and consequential journalism," said Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post.

  • "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."
  • Bezos also thanked Patty Stonesifer, a longtime Bezos confident, for her work as interim CEO. Stonesifer replaced former CEO Fred Ryan in August. Ryan was hired by Bezos nine years ago.
  • "The Washington Post is a premier global media publisher of record, known for its 145-year-old history of unflinching journalism, and I am thrilled and humbled to be at its helm as both a media executive and former reporter," Lewis 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."

Between the lines: Lewis currently serves as the founder, CEO and publisher of the News Movement, a social media news company for young consumers.

  • He previously served as CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal. He also served in executive roles at Dow Jones parent News Corp. in the U.K. He was formerly the editor of the U.K. newspaper, The Daily Telegraph and held numerous roles at the The Financial Times.

Catch up quick: Financial challenges over the past year have weighed on company morale and have led to an uptick in union activity at the Post, Axios has reported.

  • The Post is on track to lose $100 million this year, according to a source familiar with the company's financial situation, after failing to bring in a profit last year.
  • The company's interim CEO, Patty Stonesifer, told staffers in October that it would offer voluntary buyouts to employees across its organization in an effort to eliminate 240 jobs without resorting to layoffs.

Be smart: The Post has struggled to offset heavy investments in new editorial topic like climate and wellness in the midst of an advertising market slowdown and subscription losses.

  • The outlet has lost roughly 500,000 digital subscriptions since its Trump-era peak of 3 million.

The big picture: The Post, under Ryan’s leadership and Bezos’ ownership, has made strides to modernize, but its growth lags its biggest national competitor, the New York Times.

  • The company has added new revenue streams, like software licensing, and has significantly grown its social and digital footprints.
  • It has continued to receive top awards for its journalism, including three Pulitzer Prizes this year.
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