Washington Post Staffers Push Back on Sally Buzbee’s Sudden Exit as Executive Editor

Washington Post staffers are concerned about the abrupt departure of their executive editor Sally Buzbee, after her resignation and newsroom restructuring were announced on Sunday.

Buzbee stepped down Sunday after three years leading the outlet, with Matt Murray taking the helm until the 2024 presidential election and Robert Winnett announced as his successor.

An all-hands meeting held by Washington Post CEO Will Lewis and Murray on Monday turned tense as staffers expressed concern about the sudden changes to the outlet, according to Vanity Fair special correspondent Brian Stelter. He wrote on social media that “Lewis bluntly told them to get with the program, so to speak.”

According to Semafor’s Max Tani, staffers questioned Lewis on the new leadership’s lack of diversity, citing Buzbee’s departure as the paper’s first female top editor.

In response to the departure and changes, The Washington Post Guild wrote in a new statement, “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.”

“We are also concerned about the lack of diversity at the top levels of the organization,” they noted, citing leadership’s goal to reach new audiences while maintaining quality coverage.

According to the New York Times, Buzbee’s resignation was a result of Lewis’ restructuring of the Post. His choice to split the newsroom into three smaller departments “didn’t work for her.”

“I would have preferred to stay to help us get through this period, but it just got to the point where it wasn’t possible,” Buzbee said during an editorial call, according to the Times.

The restructuring comes just over a week after the paper announced it lost $77 million in the past year and planned to expand the use of artificial intelligence throughout its newsroom. The Post’s traffic has also been cut in half since its 2020 high, as news publishers across the industry continue to struggle with reader retention.

During Monday’s staff meeting, Lewis said it would be “nuts” to continue to operate on the business practices that contributed to the losses, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik.

“We are going to turn this thing around, but let’s not sugarcoat it: it needs turning around,” he said. “We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience is halved. People are not reading your stuff. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.”

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