New Post editors Matt Murray and Robert Winnett praised for rigorous journalism

The two new editors tapped by Washington Post publisher and CEO William Lewis to oversee the restructuring of the news organization have decades of experience overseeing ambitious, aggressive journalism.

Matt Murray, 58, is best known in American media circles, having spent 29 years at the Wall Street Journal, the last five as editor-in-chief before leaving in 2023.

Robert Winnett, 47, deputy editor of the Telegraph Media Group, made his career in Britain and remains relatively unknown in the United States.

Murray, in particular, was praised by former colleagues at the Journal for his deep involvement in the articles.

“He always supported us in investigations, and he was one of our greatest champions,” said James V. Grimaldi, an investigative reporter for the Journal (and former Post reporter). “He is an intelligent, thoughtful and brilliant editor with exceptional judgment when it comes to making difficult decisions on important stories, and who has impeccable ethics and standards.”

A native of Bethesda, Maryland, Murray edited his high school newspaper before studying journalism at Northwestern University. He served as an editor in Virginia and covered crime in Chicago before joining the Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau in 1994. After covering banking, he rose through the management ranks.

“He will circulate around the room and want to know what you are working on,” said a Journal staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. “He wants to get to the point.”

Gerald F. Seib, who worked closely with Murray as the Journal’s Washington bureau chief, described him as “a calming influence” during tumultuous times in the newsroom.

“She’s a really nice person. He asks you about your family, he asks you about your children,” Seib added. “He’s not a crier, he’s not a thrower, he’s a surprisingly normal person.”

In 1999, Murray published a memoir about his father’s decision to retire from his government career and enter a Benedictine monastery. “I really felt like my family had imploded in a lot of ways,” he said in a 2020 interview. But “writing the book helped me think more deeply about the story and to the role models in my family.”

After the Journal published a successful investigation in 2021 that found widespread conflicts of interest among federal judges, Murray urged staff to investigate the financial disclosures of all federal employees. The resulting series, “Capital Assets,” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2023.

“He is ready to propose, initiate, support and finance very ambitious journalism,” Grimaldi said. “You can’t ask for more from a publisher.”

Under Murray, the Journal also gained attention for its reporting on the origins of the coronavirus, including questions about the Chinese lab leak. “Our goal was and still is to just ask questions and see what we can find out and follow the facts,” Murray told the Post in 2021. “We’ve always been open-minded in trying to follow the thread of origins of the virus. .”

He added that journalists can sometimes be too dependent on experts. “As a journalist, you always have to be open to new evidence, open to new voices and open to things that you think might contradict what you think is the truth,” Murray said.

Although he comes from a traditional journalism background, he has embraced new media and technology since leaving the Journal — experiences that could stand him in good stead as he oversees the Post’s efforts to find new ways to reach readers and subscribers. He served as a senior consultant to the publication’s parent company, focusing primarily on AI technologies. In a recent article for a Substack newsletter, Murray wrote that all business journalists should ask companies how they plan to invest in and integrate AI.

“A million stories are waiting to be told beyond speculation and the novelty of AI,” he writes.

Winnett worked for almost 17 years at the Daily Telegraph – the last decade as deputy editor – where he was initially hired at the Sunday Times by Lewis, who was then the paper’s editor.

In interviews with several Telegraph colleagues, Winnett – known as “Rob” – was described as a laid-back man with a cheeky smile, a sometimes shy character who could nevertheless be a “burrow” in a story.

Postal workers “have nothing to fear,” said a reporter who worked with Winnett. “Everyone will appreciate having him as their boss and will quickly see his qualities.”

At the Sunday Times, Winnett was praised for his role in an investigation into the “cash for honors” scandal – a story about the links between political donations and “life peerages” which give individuals the right to sit on the bench. House of Lords. He also played a central role in the Telegraph’s investigation into the misuse of expenses accounts by members of Parliament, a series that shook Britain’s political establishment.

This latest scoop sparked some criticism, calling it “checkbook journalism”: the newspaper reportedly paid more than $100,000 for a computer disk recovered from a parliamentary tax office. But the investigation, based on the analysis of millions of captured data, proved a success which led to the resignation of several officials.

Most recently, Winnett oversaw a leak to the Telegraph of more than 100,000 private WhatsApp messages between government ministers at the height of the covid-19 pandemic.

Tom Rowley, a former journalist who worked for Winnett at the Telegraph, called him a “zen figure” who was “quiet, quite shy and unflappable – there were definitely louder voices in the newsroom.” In my years there, I never heard Rob raise his voice or anything. He always seemed calm and serene. But that calm, Rowley said, coexisted with “great impatience and great dynamism.”

“I don’t think coverage area matters,” Rowley said. “He will want it to be brilliant, to have an impact, to be the best possible.”

While other editors came and went with high frequency, “Rob was the constant rallyer of the troops, producing daily news.”

Rowley said his lasting memory of Winnett was of him sitting in the center of the newsroom, “leaning back in his chair, circling the 10th paragraph of a Financial Times article to follow on.” It is very detailed, the power behind the throne, rather than the leader.

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