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Turbulence in WaPo as daily loses dollars

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The prestigious Washington Post is in crisis, with pressure on from owner Jeff Bezos to change its money-losing ways. The Post’s managing editor abruptly resigned; a chosen successor withdrew under fire, and a boss has been targeted in the newspaper’s columns.
At the heart of the storm is the “WaPo”‘s new CEO, Briton William Lewis, who was given a mission by Amazon founder Bezos when he appointed him last autumn.Lewis was asked to turn around a newspaper that continues to pile up Pulitzer Prizes half a century after the Watergate scandal it instigated, but which has lost $77 million in 2023 despite job cuts and the disappearance of its Sunday supplement. However, the former journalist, who made history in the 2000s with a scoop on the expenses of British MPs when he was editor of the Daily Telegraph, is finding his position increasingly vulnerable.
For weeks now, revelations have multiplied about his role, when he was working for the Murdoch family’s conservative media group about 12 years ago, in a scandal of illegal phone tapping by the tabloid The News of the World. On Friday, Lewis was at the centre of an investigation by his own journalists. According to the Washington Post, he gave the go-ahead in 2011 for the destruction of thousands of emails, fuelling suspicions that he was destroying evidence, which he denies.
As the US presidential election approaches, the affair is poisoning the atmosphere at a long-vaunted newspaper that is “not doing well economically,” says Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy.
The Post was among trusted news outlets that benefited from the upheaval that marked Trump’s four years in the White House that ended with his loss to President Joe Biden. Trump’s departure from the White House meant fewer attention-grabbing stories to keep readers engaged. By the end of 2022, the Post would have 2.5 million subscribers compared with 3 million subscribers when Biden took office in early 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, rival New York Times has grown to more than 10 million subscribers, the fruit of a strategy to diversify into fun topics such as games, food, and lifestyle while still serving up hard news.
Professor Kennedy believes that Lewis has no choice but to leave the Post because he has lost the confidence of the team there.





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