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Washington Post editor-in-chief reportedly stepped down after clashing with CEO over phone hacking article | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Sally Buzbee, editor-in-chief of The Washington Post, abruptly resigned Sunday, weeks after her relationship with the company’s chief executive, Will Lewis, deteriorated

The Washington Post Building at One Franklin Square Building on June 5, 2024 in Washington, DC. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Andrew Harnik / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

In mid-May, Buzbee clashed with Lewis over whether to publish a story about Lewis’ British hacking scandal.

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According to sources, Buzbee informed Lewis that the newsroom planned to cover a judge’s upcoming ruling in a long-running British legal case involving Prince Harry and others against Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids.

The judge was expected to decide whether Lewis’s name could be added to a list of executives accused of concealing hacking evidence. Lewis argued that the case did not merit coverage, but Buzbee insisted on publishing the article.

This interaction unsettled Buzbee, who sought advice from confidants outside The Post. The Post published the article when the judge ruled on May 21 that Lewis could be added to the case.

Although Lewis did not prevent its publication, the incident weighed heavily on Buzbee as she contemplated her future at the paper.

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Why did Buzbee resign?

Buzbee’s resignation was not solely due to the hacking case coverage. She was already considering her future because of a reorganization plan proposed by Lewis in April. Lewis had offered Buzbee a position overseeing a new division focused on social media and service journalism, which she perceived as a demotion from her role as executive editor, where she oversaw the entire news report.

Appointed by Jeff Bezos, The Post’s owner, Lewis was tasked with remaking the publication late last year amid declining audience numbers and huge financial losses.

Former CEO of Dow Jones, Lewis has been navigating a strategy to overhaul the business. He decided to split the editorial ranks into three divisions: a core newsroom covering politics, business, and other topics; an opinion section; and a new division for social media and service journalism, including wellness and lifestyle coverage. Previously, The Post had been divided into news and opinion sections.

Lewis told Buzbee she could help recruit the editor for the core news operation. He later chose Robert Winnett, an editor at The Daily Telegraph and a former colleague of Lewis.

The conversation about the phone hacking coverage occurred during an executive meeting outside The Post newsroom, where executives discussed Lewis’s planned changes. Top editors sometimes alert executives about sensitive stories before publication. For example, in 2013, Martin Baron, Buzbee’s predecessor, informed the publisher about stories on the National Security Agency, and in 1971, Ben Bradlee alerted the former owner about the Pentagon Papers.

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Will Lewis trying to revamp the Post

At a tense staff meeting on Monday, Lewis defended his business strategy, highlighting The Post’s $77 million loss the previous year and a 50% audience decline since 2020. “Let’s not sugarcoat it. It needs turning around, right?” he said.

“We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff.”

“I’ve had to take decisive, urgent action to set us on a different path, sourcing talent that I have worked with that are the best of the best of the best.”

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