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Washington Post appoints William Lewis as CEO; to reduce headcount by 10%

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A man walks into the Washington Post’s building in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

William Lewis, the former Dow Jones chief executive and publisher of The Wall Street Journal has been named chief executive and publisher of The Washington Post, the Post said on Saturday.

The Washington Post said that it is projected to end the year taking a $100 million loss. The publisher added that executives are offering buyouts across the company in an effort to reduce its headcount by about 10%, the newsroom is expected to shrink to about 940 journalists.

Lewis’s appointment comes at a time when the media industry is grappling with a sluggish advertising market, low trust in news, and developments in generative AI technology that threaten to upend how people find and consume information.

Lewis is set to take on his duties from Jan. 2, 2024, replacing Patty Stonesifer, who became interim chief executive in June. The Post is owned by billionaire Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.

According to an Oct. 10 email sent by Stonesifer to staff and seen by Reuters, after conducting a review Stonesifer and senior leadership determined that the Post’s prior projections for website traffic, subscriptions and advertising growth for the past two years and into 2024 were “overly optimistic.” It’s unclear why those projections were off.

Stonesifer had replaced Fred Ryan, who stepped down in August after a nine-year stint as publisher and CEO.

During Ryan’s tenure, the Post boosted its digital subscriptions, won 13 Pulitzer Prizes and launched the Arc XP cloud-based digital platform that serves more than 1,900 sites in 28 countries, according to the company in June.

In an article covering Ryan’s departure, the Post reported that the majority of its revenue now comes from its digital business, and it has about 2.5 million digital subscribers, a shift from when Ryan was hired in September 2014 and the majority of revenue came from its print business.

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