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Will in the World

will lewis
Lewis’s new plan aims to reverse the Post’s fortunes and reassert the paper’s position in what has become an extremely crowded marketplace over the last decade. Photo: Carlotta Cardana/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
May 22, 2024

On Monday, Will Lewis, the effervescent, still-newish publisher and C.E.O. of The Washington Post, called to walk me through his long-awaited plan to restore his paper’s reputation and momentum and “swagger.” Lewis tactfully stated that his objective was to make the Post “the best place in the world to make journalism.” He also conceded that his mandate, articulated by his boss Jeff Bezos, was to return the media company to profitability. “I’ll sleep a lot better when we’re making money,” Lewis told me in his Etonian accent. 

Of course, Lewis inherited a company from his predecessor Fred Ryan that, by his account, lost $77 million last year and has endured a staggering 50plus percent audience drop-off since 2020. Even those statistics may be conservative: I have previously reported that the company had 139 million monthly visitors four years ago, and less than 60 million by the end of last year. And it’s not an engaged audience, either. Fewer than one in five read more than a single article per month, according to my sources, while fewer than one in 500 actually converted to a paying subscription.