Katharine Graham Weymouth, The Washington Post's publisher since 2008, is being replaced with Frederick J. Ryan Jr., a former Reagan administration official and one of the founders of The Post's rival, Politico, the paper reported. Weymouth will stay on as an advisor for the rest of the year, but the change marks owner and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos's first big management move since buying the paper last year.
Bezos declined to comment, but in a letter to the staff Weymouth said it was time to "explore new opportunities" and that "it is time for new leadership." Ryan has experience at one of the leading digital politics sites, but as The Post notes Ryan, who was a top presidential aide, is "certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post's editorial page."
Weymouth's departure is also the end of an era. She was a fourth-generation publisher at The Post, after the Meyers-Graham family first purchased the paper in 1933. Weymouth worked on the paper's business side for several years before transition to publisher in 2008. Since then it had been a rocky ride — Weymouth was criticized for ending the paper's Book World supplement and ombudsman position, and for a brief plan to allow lobbyists to underwrite get-togethers with Obama administration officials and Post journalists.
Here's Weymouth's full statement:
The greatest honor of my life has been serving as publisher of The Post these past seven years, working with all of you. Now, after 17 years at this great institution, it is time for me to explore other opportunities.
I make this announcement with mixed emotions. I am enormously excited about this new era at The Post, but I will miss all of you tremendously.
The Post will be in excellent hands. Effective October 1, 2014, Fred Ryan, will become Publisher and CEO. Fred is a seasoned and well-respected executive with a track record of success at the helm of Politico and Allbritton Communications. He knows Washington, and he knows media. Fred is excited to take the helm and to meet all of you.
Fred and I will work closely together to ensure a smooth and easy transition. I will remain available as an advisor to him and to The Post through the end of the year.
I want to take a moment to tell you how proud I am of the talent we have in this company – both in the newsroom and business operations. I promised you when I started that it would never be boring. Promise kept.
I am tremendously proud of all that we have accomplished. Our business model is strong. And under Marty Baron’s leadership, our journalism has never been better. We have embarked on revelatory investigative projects while also giving our readers stories and videos that reflect the joy and humor in life. We have uncovered corruption, shown the real-world impact of economic upheaval, and provided unequaled coverage of the Obama administration’s first and now second terms. We have shown courage in reporting on wars and unrest all over the world, and we exposed how the government’s anti-terrorism technology poses profound civil liberties issues for Americans. We have never forgotten our local community, highlighting issues of public safety and providing readers the information they need to be engaged citizens. As a result, we have more readers today than ever.
We have made the transition to the digital era, and we’ve done it so successfully that in a time when many media companies seem positioned for retreat, we are positioned for opportunity. That’s something for all of us to take pride in, and it couldn’t have happened without every one of you.
I cannot mention or thank everyone who deserves my gratitude and who has contributed to our success. I do want to acknowledge and thank the senior team. Under Shailesh Prakash’s leadership, we have built an Engineering department with the skills necessary for the technological challenges and opportunities for today’s news organizations. In addition: Usha Chaudhary – our steady, thoughtful, unflappable CFO; Wayne Connell, who taught me that HR is not just about benefits but is about building and growing talent; Kris Coratti, who does everything from promoting our talent on radio and TV to devising the wonderful partnerships we have in the community; Gregg Fernandes, who makes sure papers get out every night in rain or snow; Jim Coley, who makes sure that they get printed every night with consistently high quality; Fred Hiatt, our thoughtful Editorial Page Editor, who is a consistent and brave advocate for human rights around the world; Jay Kennedy, who keeps us out of trouble, vets our stories and tirelessly works to get us access to documents that should be public; and Kevin Gentzel, who has built a world-class, innovative advertising sales team. Finally, none of this could have happened without the strong and courageous guidance of Steve Hills on the business side. Steve has been my right hand and has been instrumental in our success.
Now it is time for new leadership. With Jeff Bezos as our new owner, you are already seeing an infusion of energy and ideas. This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for The Post. There is simply no other news organization in the enviable position of The Washington Post – with unbeatable talent throughout and with an owner who has the resources, is extremely ambitious, and has the patience to invest and experiment.
I will miss you all. The Post will always feel like a part of me. I will read it every day in print and online. And, like my uncle, I will be cheering from the sidelines.