Will Lewis, former CEO of the Dow Jones Index and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, will be the next CEO of The Washington Post.
The Post confirmed Mr. Lewis’ appointment in a brief statement on Saturday evening after it was first reported by The New York Times.
The Washington Post statement included a comment from Mr. Lewis, who will begin his job on January 2. “The Washington Post is a leading global media publisher known for its 145-year history of unwavering journalism, and I am thrilled and humbled to be at its helm as a former media director and reporter,” he said.
In the statement, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and owner of The Post, reiterated his commitment to the publication, calling Mr. Lewis “an exceptional and tenacious industry executive.”
Mr. Bezos sent an email to The Post’s newsroom on Saturday evening, a copy of which was shared with The Times, saying he was drawn to Mr. Lewis’ “love of journalism and passion for driving financial success.”
Mr Lewis, 54, is a British-born former journalist who was editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph before becoming news executive, and has spent more than 15 years as a leader at major news organisations. Recently, he co-founded it News movementa startup targeting young news consumers.
Mr. Bezos hired Mr. Lewis at a pivotal time for the news organization. The Post, which is set to lose $100 million this year, has struggled to grow its digital subscription business in the years since President Donald J. Trump left office.
The newsroom is also preparing to cover the 2024 presidential election, a vital story for a newspaper that prioritizes political reporting. Trump, a frequent critic of both Bezos and the Washington Post, is expected to play a prominent role in the race.
Fred Ryan, the Post’s former publisher and CEO, announced last June that he would step down after nearly 10 years in the role. He has overseen increased digital subscriptions and expanded the newsroom. But in recent years, subscriber growth has lost momentum, falling to 2.5 million paid subscribers from about three million in 2020. The Post lost money last year, after years of profitability.
In the final years of his tenure, Mr. Ryan faced frustration among many Washington Post executives, who felt he was overseeing the paper’s lagging business culture. He also clashed with Sally Buzbee, the executive editor, over a personnel issue, and his exit was seen within the newsroom as a victory for Ms. Buzbee.
Since Mr. Ryan’s departure, the company has been run by Patty Stonecipher, an Amazon board member and a confidant of Mr. Bezos. Ms. Stonecipher told the newsroom in June that she expected to remain in the position for six months to a year, as the search was underway for a permanent CEO, and promised that there would be no layoffs.
But Ms. Stonecipher later admitted that her statement about job cuts was “naive,” and said in an email to the newsroom last month that forecasts for traffic, subscriptions and ad growth were “overly optimistic.” As a result, The Post will eliminate about 240 jobs across the organization through the buyout program, she told employees.
Mr. Lewis’ appointment follows a months-long recruitment process led by Ms. Stonecipher, who used recruitment firm Sucherman to evaluate the candidates. In recent weeks, The Washington Post or Sucherman has reached out to several prominent industry figures, according to several people familiar with the discussions. Among the people were Josh Steiner, a member of the board of directors at Bloomberg LP; Evan Smith, former CEO of the Texas Tribune; Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic; Julie Sheikh Al-Islami, CEO of Politico; and Craig Foreman, former CEO of the McClatchy newspaper chain.
Bock earlier mentioned That Mr. Lewis was a major finalist to be CEO of The Washington Post.
Mr. Lewis was previously a reporter for the Financial Times, and rose through the editorial ranks to become editor-in-chief of Telegraph Media Group, owner of The Daily Telegraph. In 2010, Mr Lewis joined News UK, part of the empire founded by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
There, he was part of the executive team tasked with clearing up the phone-hacking and police bribery scandal that led to the closure of Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper.
After being named CEO of Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, in 2014, Mr. Lewis oversaw a period of growth in digital subscriptions. At the end of Mr. Lewis’s term in 2020, The Journal had more than 2 million digital subscribers, compared with about 700,000 when he started.
At The Journal, Mr. Lewis adopted a personal touch in his dealings with the newsroom. He is known to reach out to some journalists with brief emails expressing support for their work.
The News Movement, the startup he has run since 2021, publishes videos about current events on popular social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube, and has partnered with organizations including The Associated Press. The company has raised $15 million from backers including the publisher of British newspaper National World, and recently acquired political news startup The Recount.
It was Mr. Lewis Knight This year by King Charles III for “political and public service”, on the recommendation of Boris Johnson, the former British Prime Minister who had informally advised him. Mr. Lewis is also one of the suitors of the Telegraph Group, his former employer: he Tell Bloomberg in September said he had lined up financial support.
“Web maven. Infuriatingly humble beer geek. Bacon fanatic. Typical creator. Music expert.”