More Intrigue At 'The Washington Post': 'NYT' Alleges Publisher, Incoming Editor Used Stolen Records In UK

Observers are wondering whether Will Lewis, the CEO/publisher of The Washington Post, will survive the turmoil over the abrupt departure of executive editor Sally Buzbee and his hiring of two former UK colleagues as top editors. And if he does last, will he abide by American journalistic standards? 

The questions have greater weight given an investigative report published by The New York Times on Saturday. 

The Times alleges that Lewis had assigned an article based on phone records obtained by hacking when working as business editor of the (UK) Sunday Times in 2004.  

And in 2002, Robert Winnett, the incoming editor of the Post, wrote an article based on materials deceptively obtained by a private investigator, the Times writes.   



The hacking scandal has roiled UK newsrooms for years, and it may be difficult to unravel what happened two decades ago. 

Lewis states that his only role in the scandal was to root out problematic behavior while at News Corp.

But in another instance, in 2009, Lewis paid 100,000 pounds to a source, a practice generally prohibited at U.S. newspapers, the Times continues.  

A Post spokesperson told the Times, “William is very clear about the lines that should not be crossed, and his track record attests to that.”

Earlier this month, Lewis assured the Post newsroom that as publisher, he will not try interfere with editorial.
“I will never cross the line,” he said. “These are the editors. I am the publisher. There’s a very clear line there, which will be maintained at all times.” 

There is a certain urgency to these questions, given the fact that the Post lost $77 million last year (less than the once-projected $100 million, the Post reports). It has also lost half of its audience, mirroring an industry-wide decline, it adds.  

Matt Murray will serve as executive editor until the end of the 2024 election cycle. Winnett will at that point become editor, a new title, and Murray will oversee the so-called third newsroom, a unit devoted to service and social media journalism that will be operated separately from the core news operation.

Meanwhile, in a related development, The Post is planning to commission David Droga, who created the “Truth Is Hard” campaign for The New York Times, to create one that would redefine the Post’s image, Semafor reports. 

The Post’s latest rebranding effort in 2017 featured the slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

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