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The WaPo Blow-Up And the Ongoing Riddle of Newspaper Decline

 Member Newsletter
June 5, 2024 10:34 a.m.

A number of you have asked me to share my thoughts on abrupt shake-up at The Washington Post in which Executive Editor Sally Buzbee was abruptly forced out by turnaround CEO Will Lewis. I don’t know enough about the situation at the Post to add more than you’re hearing from other commentary. There are a lot of things that look bad and I’m fairly confident they are bad. But I don’t know the backstory or details well enough to do more than repeat widely shared impressions. But I have a few ancillary observations.

The first is a simple pattern, not terribly surprising, but still worth absorbing. We’ve seen a series of billionaires get into the news business by purchasing for-profit news entities with what seems like the implicit promise that their vast resources will allow them to focus on journalistic excellence even if that means running losses which the new owner can cover without much difficulty. This seemed like the Bezos concept. He bought the Post when it was seriously on the ropes and when its longtime family owners (the Graham family) simply didn’t have the resources to get the paper back to profitability or to secure its place as one of the 3-to-4 national U.S. newspapers.

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