The Washington Post publisher is stepping down as Jeff Bezos takes a more hands-on approach

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan He leaves the company after nine years announce In a note to employees Monday. Founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos installed Ryan as publisher and CEO after he bought the company; Ryan, a former Reagan administration official, said he is leaving to “lead the nonpartisan center for public civility launched by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute,” noting his “deep and growing concern about the decline of civility and respectful dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms and on a global scale.” broader across our society.” Ryan will remain publisher through August 1st. Bezos said in his private note to employees on Monday that “his longtime friend and colleague Patty Stonesiever— former Microsoft CEO and founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — “will be joining the post today as interim CEO.”

This news comes as Bezos gets very involved in the inner workings of the company. Of course, Bezos owns the place and has always been involved, on some level, with the staff. But for the most part, only the higher ranks—Ryan in particular—were privy to it. Recently, however, his involvement has been “beyond Fred,” said a source familiar with the matter.

In the past few months, Bezos has participated in numerous Zoom meetings with senior leaders such as Ryan and the executive editor Sally BuzbyAnd And also the managing editor justin bank, Chief Financial Officer Steve Gibson and editing page editor David Shipley According to two familiar sources. The meetings, which took place on an approximately fortnightly basis, largely focused on mailBusiness and technology: Things like digital strategy, audience and product, the sources said. I’m told Bezos has brought a refreshing candor to the discussions, asking about things like mailThe paywall strategy, in particular the plan to increase subscriptions. At times, one of the sources said, he questioned Ryan sharply. The other source said Bezos has been providing management notes outside of meetings as well. (the mail declined to comment.)

Bezos’ most active role comes after his rare visit to… mail headquarters in January. The Amazon founder appeared in the newsroom for the first time in more than a year during a period of turmoil, as concern grew about upcoming layoffs, a job strugglesAnd Questions surrounding driving. His visit was framed as an informal meet-and-greet, but the staff could not read the timing of the visit, particularly as it came amid mentioned The tension between Buzbee and Ryan – and as some have been I wonder That’s where Bezos’ commitment to the newspaper stood. During his visit, Bezos met not only with Ryan and Buzbee, but also with senior editors cameron parr, Mattia Gold Laurie Montgomery, Phil Rucker Chrissa Thompson, and a star political reporter Josh Dawsey indicating that he will be more involved going forward. It was quiet for a few months after that. Then came the Zoom meeting spree.

I’m told a lot of chatter about alleged friction between Buzbee and Ryan has died down since the winter. In addition, morale in the newsroom improved on Pulitzer Day, many times over mail Sources indicated, when the newspaper won three awards, including for national reporting (Caroline Kitchenerabortion coverage) and article writing (Ali Saslow which he has since left for the The New York Times , (for stories of people struggling in post-pandemic America). There was also a town hall earlier this spring, the first since Ryan surprised the newsroom in December by dropping news of layoffs and then refusing to answer questions, saying he wanted to avoid turning the town hall “into a union grievance hearing.” At the last town hall, I was told, he took the questions through to the end. Videos of the town hall circulated internally, and mailPulitzer celebration stream on YouTube; According to a familiar source, Bezos has seen at least parts of both.

Stonesifer addressed the staff on Monday and was well received. A reporter texted me after her remarks “She totally won the newsroom.” “Someone asked her to name a few stories she liked (very difficult question!) and she deftly named specific recent examples section after section: opinion, national, metro, international, style, food.” They said her response was met with applause.

The temporary publisher also told the newsroom that there would be no layoffs, sources told me, and suggested they could easily see the Bezos owning the paper as long as the Meyer-Graham family — which owns mail Before Bezos for nearly 80 years – dispelling rumors that the Amazon chief was looking to sell.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s departure was apparently a welcome development. “I haven’t spoken to anyone today who isn’t happy about that,” another mail He told a reporter of his departure.

still mail He faces serious headwinds. There has been concern for months about the direction digital newspaper subscriptions are going, and the concern about traffic showed up in several conversations with senior leaders, according to two mail employees. New York times, one of mailBiggest competitor for 190,000 digital subscribers last quarter alonethanks in part to a digital subscription package including products like The Athletic, a sports website times Acquired last year, these additions brought the company’s total digital subscriber base to 9 million. the mail, On the other hand resist To grow the subscription business in the post-Trump era, with fewer paying digital subscribers in 2022 than 3 million in 2020, times mentioned last year. this spring, mail I continued to try Attract young people And more diverse audiences, and grow international public. as one mail The employee said, “Where? the The New York Times It has this wave of new subscribers that Games and Maybe Cooking, and mail He was just trying to walk through the water.”

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