The Washington Post has named William Lewis as its new CEO and Publisher, effective Jan. 2. It’s a move that comes as the Jeff Bezos-owned company seeks to turn around steep revenue and subscription declines over the last couple of years.
Post owner Jeff Bezos announced the appointment in a memo to the staff:
“Ten years ago, I made a commitment to the future of The Washington Post, inspired by its ambitious and consequential journalism,” said Bezos. “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. I also want to thank Patty Stonesifer for stepping in to lead The Post so ably over the past several months.”
“As I’ve gotten to know Will, I’ve been drawn to his love of journalism and passion for driving financial success. Will embodies the tenacity, energy and vision needed for this role. He believes that together we will build the right future for The Post. I agree.”
Lewis replaces interim CEO Patty Stonesifer, who in June of this year replaced Fred Ryan, the longtime publisher and CEO.
Last month the newspaper eliminated 240 people, nearly 10% of its workforce; Post reporter Paul Farhi revealed the next day that the cuts were in response to a 30% drop in digital ads and 15% drop in subscriptions, among other serious losses.
In a memo to employees explaining the cuts, Stonesifer said this week that the company was “overly optimistic” about projections it made for traffic, subscription and advertising during the period from 2021 to the present. “We have work going on across the organization to develop a strong plan for 2024 — and make no mistake — we remain bullish about the future of The Washington Post,” she said in part.
Lewis is currently the Founder, CEO and Publisher of The News Movement, a social-first media business providing nonpartisan news to Gen Z. He was the CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal from 2014 to 2020.
He had a stint at the Daily Telegraph and in 2010 joined the Murdoch-owned News Corp. where he helped run a committee that dealt with the news corporations’s phone-hacking and police bribery scandals.