Fred Ryan, Publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, announced that he is stepping down from his position after growing frustrated with the tense political discourse that he says has become “toxic.” Despite his pride working for The Washington Post, which he said experienced “one of the most extraordinary transformations in modern media history,” Ryan shared that he feels an urgency to remedy the “decline in civility [that] has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and weakens the underpinnings of our democracy.” Committed to “protecting democracy,” Ryan will be leading a newly formed “nonpartisan” Center on Public Civility at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
The Washington Post reports that the interim CEO will be Patty Stonesifer, who was the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Stonesifer has also served on the Board of Regents and was Chair of the Smithsonian Institution and the White House Council for Community Solutions. Stonesifer also currently holds board roles at Amazon, Rockefeller Foundation, Co-Impact and TheDream.us.
The New York Post reports that the leadership change came shortly after the layoff of about 2,500 Washington Post employees. Ryan informed the employees that the layoffs were a result of “worsening economic conditions.”
Ryan’s tenure began at The Washington Post after he was recruited to the position by “the billionaire from his chief spot at Politico.” Ryan led The Post for most of the decade since it was bought out by Jeff Bezos for $250 million. In a memo addressed to the Washington Post team, Bezos wrote of Stonesifer, “she’ll head up our leadership team, steer us through this important transition and help me identify the publisher/CEO who will take The Post forward into the next decade.”