Washington Post names Will Lewis as new chief executive and publisher

Washington Post names Will Lewis as new chief executive and publisher

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Veteran British media executive Sir Will Lewis has been named as the new publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post, as the newspaper group owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos looks to revive its fortunes.

Lewis, 54, has had several high-profile jobs in the media industry, including being editor of the Daily Telegraph, publisher of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and chief executive of Dow Jones.

Most recently he co-founded the News Movement, an organisation seeking to provide reliable information on platforms with large audiences of young people, such as TikTok and YouTube.

The former Financial Times journalist had also been in the running to buy the Daily Telegraph, which was put up for sale last month. In September, Lewis told Bloomberg that he had lined up funding for a bid for the paper. He plans to withdraw from the bidding process, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Lewis will begin his new role at the Washington Post on January 2, and takes over from interim chief executive Patty Stonesifer. The US broadsheet has been searching for a new permanent head since the departure this summer of Fred Ryan, who had been chief executive and publisher for almost a decade.

In a statement, Bezos said Lewis was “an exceptional, tenacious industry executive whose background in fierce, award-winning journalism makes him the right leader at the right time”.

Lewis said: “Leading this bold media brand means building on my commitment to championing high-quality journalism and safeguarding our democratic values.”

By joining the Washington Post, Lewis adds to the ranks of British executives at the helm of top US media organisations. Earlier this year, former BBC director-general Mark Thompson became chief executive of cable TV news channel CNN, while Emma Tucker was named as editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal in December last year.

After enjoying a surge in subscriptions during the presidency of Donald Trump, the Washington Post has seen growth falter more recently. Last month Stonesifer, a board member at Amazon, told staff that projections for growth in advertising, internet traffic and subscriptions had been “overly optimistic”, and announced plans to reduce headcount by around 10 per cent through voluntary redundancy.

Lewis was given a knighthood earlier this year for his “political and public service”, having been an adviser to former UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

During his time as editor, Lewis and the Telegraph won multiple awards for its investigation into the misuse of expenses by British members of parliament.

Shortly after Lewis became general manager of Murdoch’s UK newspapers business in 2010, one of the company’s publications — the News of the World tabloid — was engulfed in an illegal phone-hacking scandal. Less than a year into the job, Lewis was seconded to an independent committee inside Murdoch’s media empire responsible for handling the company’s response. 

Additional reporting by Daniel Thomas in London

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