Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos on Tuesday named Frederick Ryan as the publication’s new publisher, turning to the founding chief executive of Web-savvy Politico to lead one of the nation’s premier news organizations.
Ryan will take over Oct. 1 for Katharine Weymouth, ending more than eight decades of leadership of the paper by the Graham family.
Weymouth, who has been publisher since 2008, is the granddaughter of legendary former Post publisher Katharine Graham.
“Now it is time for new leadership,” Weymouth said Tuesday.
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“With Jeff Bezos as our new owner, you are already seeing an infusion of energy and ideas,” she said. “This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for the Post.”
Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, bought the Post for $250 million last year.
Since then, he has been working to expand the publication’s digital readership as it and other traditional news organizations have struggled to adjust to an Internet-focused world and the decline of print subscriptions.
Bezos thanked Weymouth for staying on as publisher after he bought the paper and said Ryan was “excited to meet the team and roll up his sleeves.”
Ryan, who began his career as a lawyer in Los Angeles, served on the White House staff of President Reagan and is chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
Ryan joined Allbritton Communications in 1995 and was a key player when the media company launched Politico in 2007. He was the chief executive and president of Politico, as well as chief operating officer of Allbritton, until stepping down in September.
Ryan told the Post in an interview that he would continue a growth strategy at what he called “a world-class news organization.”
“You don’t shrink your way to success,” Ryan said. “The Post is on the move. There’s no question about that.”
Ryan said he has known Bezos for a while and the two had discussed experimentation and innovation at the Post.
“I had many conversations with him about what we thought the future of journalism was, what we thought about the exciting possibilities, the changing media landscape and the opportunities it presented,” Ryan said. “I know he is passionate about the publication. He is passionate about a successful model for journalism.”
Martin Baron, who will remain the Post’s executive editor, said in a story in the Post that he doesn’t expect Ryan’s appointment to have political implications for the newsroom’s coverage.
“I would just say I’ve worked the last 20 years in media,” Ryan said, when asked how his political background may influence him as publisher of the Post.
“My goal at Politico “and my goal here is the standard for news should be objectivity. It should be ideology-free.” he said.
The Post reported that Weymouth will stay on payroll through the end of the year as an adviser.
“The greatest honor of my life has been serving as publisher of the Post these past seven years, working with all of you,” Weymouth said in the memo.
Ryan said he would retain longtime editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt and said he didn’t anticipate changes in the Post’s editorial policy.
Material from Bloomberg News is included in this report.