Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post and the fourth generation of the Graham family to lead it, will step down in October, she said Tuesday. She will be succeeded by Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the founding chief executive of Politico, the newspaper said.
“The greatest honor of my life has been serving as publisher of The Post these past seven years, working with all of you,” she wrote in a note to her colleagues. “Now, after 17 years at this great institution, it is time for me to explore other opportunities.”
The Post was bought by Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos nearly out of the blue last summer. He had retained Weymouth as publisher.
“She has successfully led many new initiatives and assured that the first ownership change of this great institution in 80 years has been done smoothly and without skipping a beat,” Bezos said in a statement.
Weymouth, 48, was the last major link to the Graham family, which had become a Washington institution and had presided over The Post’s most glorious era — the decades surrounding the Watergate scandal, in which it was instrumental in forcing the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
Ryan, 59, a former Reagan administration official, rose to prominence as a publisher at Politico — a news organization started by former Washington Post journalists who did not feel they had the opportunity to start a Web-focused publication within the newspaper.
The Post has undergone a newsroom expansion under Bezos, who has regularly met with senior staff, and has focused more of its attention on the Web. But he had long been expected to apply the kind of disruptive thinking he demonstrated with Amazon to the newspaper business.
A person with knowledge of the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive details, said that the decision to step aside was not Weymouth’s, although she had not been fired for poor performance.
The precise details of his decision to switch publishers were not clear Tuesday, and Weymouth, Bezos, and Ryan were not immediately available for interview. Weymouth said she made the announcement with mixed emotions.
“Now it is time for new leadership,” she wrote. “With Jeff Bezos as our new owner, you are already seeing an infusion of energy and ideas. This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for The Post.”
In a statement, Ryan said that the Post “is a crown jewel, exemplifying the finest in editorial quality and journalistic values.” He added: “I am honored to follow four generations of Graham family leadership and thrilled with the opportunity to work with Jeff and the incredibly talented team at The Post.”
According to a securities filing from the Graham Holdings Co., the name the Graham family company took after selling The Post, Weymouth had been paid about $2.7 million in bonuses related to the performance and the sale of the newspaper in the past year or so.