Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan announced Monday that he will step down from the newspaper in August.
Ryan, who oversaw The Washington Post for the past nine years shortly after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos acquired instead, he will lead the newly created nonpartisan Center for Public Civility at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
“Jeff has personally provided support for the planning and design phase of this new initiative and supports my decision to take this step,” Ryan told Washington Post staff in a statement Monday.
Ryan said that under his leadership, the Post went from a local print newspaper to a global digital publication and won 13 Pulitzer Prizes. IN declarationThe Washington Post reported several years of profitability and a dramatic jump in digital subscriptions under Ryan.
But Post was not immune to wider industrial struggles. In recent years, the newspaper has laid off editorial and shop staff.
The media industry has recently been hit by a wave of job cuts, both in digital and traditional newsrooms. Industry was too anchoring with the rise of artificial intelligence, newsrooms, including the Washington Post, have begun to address issues such as security, compensation for intellectual property, transparency, accountability, and fairness.
Ryan said in his release that his career transition comes at a time when he harbors “deep and growing concern about the decline of civility and civil dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms and more broadly throughout our society.”
“Many of us remember an era when people could disagree without being disagreeable. Political leaders on opposite sides of the aisle could find common ground for the good of the country,” he continued. “Today, the decline of civility has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and undermines the foundations of our democracy. I feel a strong sense of urgency about this.”
While Ryan will remain as publisher until August, Bezos said in another statement Monday that his “longtime friend and colleague” Patty Stonesifer will join as interim CEO. Stonesifer, an Amazon board member who was the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after executive roles at Microsoft, will lead the search for a new CEO.
Read Fred Ryan’s message to staff here:
Subject: Message to colleagues at the Washington Post
Dear colleagues at the Washington Post,
Nine years ago, I was honored to be selected by Jeff Bezos to be the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. Working with Jeff and the exceptional team at The Post has been an incredible experience and extremely gratifying.
Together, we have made one of the most extraordinary transformations in modern media history. We have evolved from a primarily local print newspaper into a global digital publication. We’ve significantly strengthened a formidable team of journalists, engineers and business experts and put The Post through several years of profitability. We’ve launched an innovative new technology platform that powers hundreds of other news sites around the world.
During that time, we have won several awards for exceptional journalism, including 13 Pulitzer Prizes, and have twice been named “the world’s most innovative media company” by Fast Company.
As I have shared in conversations with many of you, I have a deep and growing concern about the decline of civility and civil dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms, and more broadly throughout our society. Many of us can remember a time when people could disagree without being unpleasant. Political leaders on opposite sides of the aisle could find common ground for the good of the country. Today, the decline of civility has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and weakens the foundations of our democracy. I feel a strong sense of urgency about this issue.
As a result, I decided to leave my position at The Post to lead the Non-Partisan Center for Public Civility which is launched by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Jeff personally provides support for the planning and design phase of this new initiative and supports my decision to take this step.
To provide advice and counsel during this transition, I have agreed to remain publisher of The Washington Post until August 1. Jeff will announce a new interim CEO today. He is an exceptional individual whom I respect immensely.
In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to spending time with all my friends and colleagues at The Post to express my deep appreciation for the many impressive contributions to our success. I am committed to providing my full support as the interim CEO charts the course of this transition and the bright future ahead for The Post.
With my deepest appreciation to each of you,
Read Jeff Bezos’ note here:
Subject: Message to the Washington Post team
Dear Washington Post Team,
I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to Fred for his dedicated service to The Washington Post as our publisher and CEO.
Fred led The Post through a period of innovation, journalistic excellence and growth. His focus on the intersection of journalism and technology has been a great asset to readers and laid the foundation for future growth.
Fred is widely respected for promoting freedom of the press and protecting journalists. In addition to launching the Press Freedom Partnership, he has been a tireless force in his commitment to securing the release of wrongfully detained journalists and an unwavering voice for accountability from those who harm them.
I am deeply grateful to Fred for his guidance and the friendship we have developed over the years. I look forward to continuing to enjoy both as he works to promote civility in our nation’s discourse.
To make sure we don’t skip a beat, Fred has agreed to stay on as publisher for the next two months, and my longtime friend and colleague Patty Stonesifer will join The Post today as interim CEO. He will lead our leadership team, guide us through this important transition, and help me identify the publisher/CEO that will move the Post into the next decade. Patty has built and led great organizations. You will soon see for yourself why I admire her. Her skills, judgment and character are outstanding. He also understands the importance of our mission and deeply respects the work we do here.
Please join me in thanking Fred as he prepares for his new venture and welcome Patty as she takes on the role of interim CEO.
Thank you very much,