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'Can't Sugarcoat It': Washington Post in Turmoil as Staff Revolt After Editor's Shocking and Sudden Exit

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Source: Washington Post

Matt Murray, former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, will take Buzbee's place for the time being.

Jun. 4 2024, Published 5:45 p.m. ET

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Former Washington Post editor-in-charge Sally Buzbee's abrupt departure has led to division in the newsroom and a "contentious" staff meeting on Monday, has learned.

Post staffers spoke with the newspaper's new CEO and publisher Will Lewis during an anxious all-hands meeting, where he detailed how the publication would take a new direction on the heels of her exit.

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Source: wiki/washington post

Chaos due to the editorial shakeup and questions about Lewis' leadership have reportedly led morale at The Post to plummet.

"Though Lewis took staff questions, he refused to give specifics about the decision-making behind Buzbee's departure," according to The New York Post.

Matt Murray, former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, will take Buzbee's place for the time being and will later be replaced by Robert Winnett, former deputy editor of Britain's Telegraph.

Murray will lend his expertise through the general election in November, and then shift to run new editorial ventures at the paper, according to reports.

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It was claimed that Buzbee, who made history as the publications first female executive editor, had sparred with the British-born media exec in recent months over his aggressive plan to carve up the newsroom and Buzbee's direction, which "pushed the editor to resign" Sunday.

Lewis became the Post's publisher and chief executive in January.

Buzbee exited after three years following deteriorating finances and readership, with the last year recording roughly $77 million in losses and audience decline of 50 percent since 2020. The reported substantial loss of income led to nearly 13 percent of the staff being laid off during 2023.

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"We are going to turn this thing around, but let's not sugarcoat it: it needs turning around," Lewis reportedly told staffers. "We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience is halved. People are not reading your stuff. I can't sugarcoat it anymore."

Lewis allegedly told staffers, "You're going to thank me when you see what it's like to produce world-class journalism," according to an insider who paraphrased his remarks.

He was reportedly "also asked whether he had interviewed any diverse candidates or women to be the new executive editor" of the new section at the paper but allegedly "did not give a definitive answer."

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Lewis mentored Winnett for decades, and the pair had worked together at British newspapers including the Telegraph and the Sunday Times — but the ethics of their reporting methods has come under intense scrutiny.

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Senior Political Reporter Ashley Parker told NPR, "The cynical interpretation is that it sort of feels like you chose two of your buddies."

Amidst the transitions, The Washington Post Guild released a statement on Monday explaining the turmoil behind the scenes.

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"We're troubled by the sudden departure of our executive editor Sally Buzbee and the suggestion from our Publisher & CEO Will Lewis that the financial issues plaguing our company span from the work of us as journalists instead of mismanagement from our leadership," it read.

"We are also concerned about the lack of diversity at the top levels of the organization, especially as The Post seeks to reach new audiences while continuing to cover the most pressing issues in the nation and the world."



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