Matt Murray, editor of the new Washington Post, meets with staff after Buzbee’s abrupt departure

Matt Murray, named the Washington Post’s new editor-in-chief, pledged to lead a new era of innovation during a staff meeting Monday that turned controversial when employees bombarded publisher and CEO William Lewis questions about the abrupt replacement of editor-in-chief Sally Buzbee.

“This is a growth change,” said Murray, a former executive editor of the Wall Street Journal. “This is a change for the future. It’s a change to build on The Post, pass it on to the next generation and value the heritage of the place.

Lewis, who previously worked with Murray at the Journal, called him “a real journalist who loves to stir up trouble and work with other editors and reporters, and an old-fashioned editor who will edit every day.”

But Lewis declined to answer specific questions about the decision-making behind Buzbee’s departure, which came as a surprise to staff when he announced it in an email Sunday evening.

“I really enjoyed working with Sally,” Lewis said, praising her. “I would have liked it to last longer, but it’s not possible. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to pursue this part of the conversation further.

He also apologized for the manner in which the announcement was made. The news “started to leak, so we had to hurry.”

Buzbee, the first woman to run the Post’s news operations, did not respond to requests for comment. She said in a brief call Sunday evening with Postal Department leaders that she had been presented with a reorganization plan that she wanted no part of, according to three people familiar with her comments who spoke under the guise of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak.

However, for weeks before announcing her departure, Lewis had been inquiring with potential candidates to succeed Buzbee, according to people familiar with her discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect confidential communications.

Buzbee was not present at the staff meeting Monday, but received a round of applause from her Post colleagues, who questioned her treatment by company executives.

Murray was replaced as editor-in-chief of the Journal in early 2023 after nearly five years, but remained with parent company News Corp in an advisory role. He was in discussions for another job opportunity, but as those deliberations progressed, he decided to accept Lewis’ invitation to join The Post, one of these people said.

In his own remarks, Murray, who spent 29 years at the Journal, focused on the future, which he said will merge the Post’s legacy with a forward-looking approach to reporting.

A native of the Washington, D.C., area, Murray said he has no plans to remake the Post like the Journal — and that The Post is the newspaper that made him want to work in journalism .

“I’ve been in the business long enough and done enough things that I’m not interested at this point in managing decline,” Murray said. “I’m interested in the future and growth. …It’s going to be an exciting time.” We’re going to have a lot of new opportunities and new things.

Murray will only replace Buzbee temporarily, Lewis announced Sunday. After Election Day, he will hand over the reins of leading the newsroom’s core reporting areas – including politics, investigations, business, technology, sports and features – to Robert Winnett, a British journalist who is currently deputy editor of the Telegraph Media Group.

At that point, Murray will become head of a new division of the company, vaguely described by Lewis on Sunday, that will focus on service journalism and social media.

Lewis previously worked alongside Murray and Winnett – the former when he was editor of the Journal, the latter when he was editor of the Daily Telegraph.

At Monday’s meeting, a staffer highlighted those connections, as well as Lewis’ past remarks about his commitment to diversity.

“The most cynical interpretation makes it seem like you picked two of your friends to come help run the Post,” she said. “And we now have four white men running three newsrooms. »

Lewis called the new division that Murray will oversee a “third newsroom,” separate from the news operations that will be run by Winnett and the Post’s opinions section, which will still be overseen by David Shipley.

Lewis also reaffirmed his commitment to diversity while acknowledging the reality of his new recruits: “I have to do better, and you will see it in the future. »

In his brief remarks, Murray did not share his specific editorial priorities, although he did mention a few specific stories that will be the Post’s top priorities, including the presidential election, Donald Trump and the Hunter Biden trial.

“The Post has such an important legacy, history and tradition of great journalism in the past and up until this morning,” he said. “There is so much remarkable work coming out of this newsroom. I am honored and proud to be part of it.

The decision to change editorial leadership and create a new division was part of Lewis’ new strategy for The Post, which focuses on reaching new audiences and rejects a “one size fits all” strategy to serve readers and attract new customers.

But Murray said there were no plans to blow things up just for the sake of it. Going forward, Murray said the Post’s mission “will be to take what we do and translate it in the right way.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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