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‘Post’ Mortem

Sally Buzbee
A veteran of the Associated Press, Buzbee had long been seen as a likable but uninspiring newsroom leader who lacked the talents and gravitas of her predecessor. Photo: Celeste Sloman for the Washington Post
Dylan Byers
June 5, 2024

In late May, just one day after Washington Post publisher and C.E.O. Will Lewis unveiled his business plan to reverse the company’s years-long slide into financial disrepair, the paper’s well-liked executive editor Sally Buzbee arrived at the company’s headquarters on K Street with a surprise. After weeks of collaborating on a secret restructuring plan that would pull all of the Post’s lifestyle content into a new, experimental newsroom that she would oversee, Buzbee told Lewis that she no longer believed in the strategy. The news shocked Lewis and, later, Post owner Jeff Bezos, both of whom had pitched Buzbee—successfully, they thought—on transitioning to this new role. 

Of course, there were a couple things going on here. Bezos and Lewis genuinely saw this new unit as a path for the Post to potentially expand its audience and return to profitability after years of staggering losses. But this was obviously a demotion for Buzbee, whose remit would be essentially halved and whose relevance inside the building would undoubtedly wane. The plan also had the added benefit of clearing the way for a new editorial leader to oversee the Post’s core newsroom. Lewis’s long-standing plan was to appoint Rob Winnett, his soft-spoken but fearless colleague from The Telegraph, in this position; keep David Shipley as head of opinion; and move Buzbee to the new role overseeing the so-called “third newsroom.” Lewis had begun pitching his friend Winnett on a Post job months ago.