Washington Post Names Ryan Publisher, Replacing Weymouth

The Washington Post’s Katharine Weymouth will step down as publisher and chief executive officer, ending the Graham family’s leadership of the newspaper a year after it was bought by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.

Weymouth, 48, who has been with the publication for 17 years, will hand over the reins to Fred Ryan, the founding CEO of digital news organization Politico and a member of former President Ronald Reagan’s administration, according to a note today to colleagues at the publication. The transition will be effective on Oct. 1.

Bezos paid $250 million for the Post in October, ending eight decades of family ownership under the Grahams and its relatives, who acquired the Post in 1933. Weymouth is the niece of Don Graham, who had been chairman of the company before selling to Bezos.

“I am so grateful to Katharine for agreeing to stay on as publisher this past year,” Bezos said. “She has successfully led many new initiatives and assured that the first ownership change of this great institution in 80 years has been done smoothly and without skipping a beat.”

Ryan, 59, helped start Politico in 2007 and was also chief operating officer of its parent company, Allbritton Communications Co. He announced plans last year to step down from both roles to pursue other career options. His experience running a primarily online news organization at Politico may help Bezos’ push to expand the Post’s digital efforts.

Bezos Conversations

In a phone interview today, Ryan said he has known Bezos for a while and had many discussions with him about experimentation and innovation at the Post.

“I had many conversations with him about what we thought the future of journalism was, what we thought about the exciting possibilities, the changing media landscape and the opportunities it presented,” Ryan said. “I know he is passionate about the publication. He is passionate about a successful model for journalism.”

Ryan, the chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, had worked in the White House for Reagan and served as chief of staff to the former president from 1989 until 1995. Reagan left office in 1989.

Martin Baron, who will remain the Post’s executive editor, said in a story in the Post that he doesn’t expect Ryan’s appointment to have political implications for the newsroom’s coverage.

Objective News

“I would just say I’ve worked the last 20 years in media,” Ryan said, when asked how his political background may influence him as publisher of the Post. My goal at Politico “and my goal here is the standard for news should be objectivity. It should be ideology-free.”

The Post reported that Weymouth will stay on payroll through the end of the year as an adviser.

“The greatest honor of my life has been serving as publisher of the Post these past seven years, working with all of you,” Weymouth said in the memo. “This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for the Post.”

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