William Lewis was named publisher and CEO of The Washington Post

William Lewis, a reporter-turned-executive who spent years in British media and Rupert Murdoch-owned companies, has been named CEO and publisher of The Washington Post.

As CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal from 2014 to 2020, Lewis is credited with growing the Journal’s digital subscriber base.

In an email to employees late Saturday, Post owner Jeff Bezos said Lewis’ background as a journalist and executive made him a “strong fit” for the job.

“As I got to know Will, I was inspired by his love of journalism and passion to drive financial success,” Bezos wrote. “He embodies the tenacity, energy and vision required for this role. He believes we will create the right future for The Post. I agree.”

After leaving Dow Jones, Lewis, 54, co-founded News Movement, which focuses on providing unbiased news to younger audiences on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms.

Before that, he had a long career in the UK, first as a business reporter and editor and later as editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph.

In 2010, he joined Murdoch-owned News Corp, and the following year helped run a team created to tackle the company’s phone-hacking and police bribery scandal — the fallout of which led to criminal charges and a shutdown. News of the World Tabloid.

Lewis takes over at a tumultuous time for The Post, which has experienced declines in both audience and subscribers. Executives are offering company-wide buyouts in an effort to reduce its headcount by about 10 percent; The newsroom is expected to shrink to about 940 journalists, and The Post is expected to post a $100 million loss this year.

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He replaces Fred Ryan, who stepped down earlier this year after overseeing much of the decade’s rapid growth of The Post, which was bought by Amazon founder Bezos.

During Ryan’s tenure, The Post’s audience and newsroom expanded — largely to coincide with a supercharged Trump administration news cycle.

But like much of the media industry, The Post saw its business decline after Trump left office and the pandemic subsided.

Lewis left Dow Jones at the same time. During his tenure, the Journal tripled its digital subscribers to 1.93 million and the company boosted revenue through elite business offers, the newspaper reported at the time.

In 2011, he was accused of playing a role in the leaking of an audio recording obtained by his former colleagues at the Telegraph, but passed on to the BBC, who were later able to publish a bombshell story detailing the cabinet secretary’s private comments about Rupert. Murdock.

Lewis denied the allegations, but declined to answer questions about the scoop during the trial, citing the need to protect evidence. In 2020, he denied allegations that he had a role in concealing emails about the hacking scandal, calling the allegations leveled in a lawsuit “absolutely false”.

The search for Ryan’s replacement was led by interim CEO Patty Stonecipher, the founding chief executive of the Gates Foundation and a former Microsoft executive who sits on Amazon’s board.

Emily Bell, who headed the Doe Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School and ran against Lewis when she led The Guardian’s digital news movement, described him as “a very journalistic publisher”.

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The years Lewis spent working for Murdock “puts a certain amount of steel into you,” he said. He added that — given his association with Murdoch and his future relationship with Bezos — Lewis’s “superpower, however, is being incredibly good with the very rich.”

Lewis starts work on January 2. He splits his time between New York and London and commutes to Washington, where The Post is headquartered.

Lewis was editor of the Telegraph when Boris Johnson wrote the paper and served as an informal adviser to the former prime minister. Last month, he was knighted on Johnson’s recommendation. When asked in September about his relationship with Johnson, who resigned from Parliament in June, Lewis told Bloomberg News that he was not a “fair weather friend.”

“If I were your friend, I wouldn’t walk away, even if you made mistakes and did things I fundamentally disagreed with.”

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