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Fred Ryan, Publisher of Washington Post, to Step Down

Fred Ryan, the publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post, told employees on Monday that he was stepping down, ending his nearly decade-long run as the newspaper’s top business executive. He was appointed by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Post.

In a note to staff, Mr. Ryan said that his next job would be leading the Center on Public Civility, a new project by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute that is backed by Mr. Bezos.

“Today, the decline in civility has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and weakens the underpinnings of our democracy,” Mr. Ryan, 68, wrote in the memo. “I feel a strong sense of urgency about this issue.”

Mr. Bezos thanked Mr. Ryan for his service in a separate note to employees, saying he led the newspaper through a period of “innovation, journalistic excellence and growth.”

Mr. Ryan has had an uneven track record at The Post. Tapped by Mr. Bezos to lead the newspaper shortly after he acquired it in 2013 for $250 million, Mr. Ryan teamed up with Marty Baron, the paper’s former executive editor, to replenish The Post’s newsroom and expand its journalism, leading to a surge of digital subscribers.

But subscriber growth has been sluggish in recent years, as the heightened reader interest in politics waned from its boom times during the attention-grabbing administration of former president Donald J. Trump, and The Post has struggled to maintain momentum. In interviews with The New York Times, many Post employees expressed frustration with what they described as a turgid business culture led by Mr. Ryan mired in endless meetings and dead-end strategy memos.

Mr. Ryan’s successor will be faced with jump-starting the newspaper’s subscriber growth as well as facing down sector-wide headwinds in the digital advertising market. But the coming presidential election is likely to provide a tailwind, as readers turn to The Post for its authoritative political coverage.

Mr. Bezos made a rare visit to The Post in January, after reports about the publication’s struggles. He met with editorial leaders and business executives and made it clear he was there to listen rather than to ask questions. His appearance reassured some staff members who were worried he was no longer committed the publication.

In the months since that visit, The Post has continued to lose top talent, including its chief revenue officer, Joy Robins, and its senior culture editor David Malitz, who both joined The Times. On June 1, The Post’s second most senior editor, Cameron Barr, announced that he would leave the company at the end of the month after nearly 20 years.

High-profile reporters like Eli Saslow, Robert Samuels and Stephanie McCrummen have also departed The Post this year. Some employees expressed relief upon hearing the news of Mr. Ryan’s impending departure Monday.

Patty Stonesifer, the former chief executive of Martha’s Table, a provider of food and clothing for low-income people, will be The Post’s interim chief executive, Mr. Bezos said in the note to employees.

“You’ll soon see for yourself why I admire her,” he said. “Her skills, judgment and character all stand out. She also understands the importance of our mission and has a deep respect for the work we do here.” She will help lead the search for the permanent successor to Mr. Ryan, who will remain publisher for the next two months.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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