Post's Web Operation Picks Spayd As Editor

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Liz Spayd, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post who is responsible for national news, was named yesterday editor of washingtonpost.com, an online news publishing organization that is operated by the newspaper's parent company.

In a written announcement yesterday to the newsroom, the newspaper's two top editors, Leonard Downie Jr. and Philip Bennett, called the appointment "a giant leap towards reaching the longterm goals of Washington Post journalism in print and online."

Washingtonpost.com is one of the flagship sites of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, which is The Washington Post Co.'s online publishing subsidiary. The mission of WPNI is to develop the company's editorial and business products on the Web.

Spayd's appointment was announced yesterday by Jim Brady, executive editor of WPNI, who called it a landmark for the operation. In a statement, he called her pending arrival in the online newsroom "another sign that our website is a journalistic force that will play a large part in shaping The Post's future."

Spayd, 47, has been the newspaper's chief editor for national news since just after the November 2000 presidential election. She has supervised coverage of national elections, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Over the past six years, said Downie, who is the newspaper's executive editor, and Bennett, who is managing editor, Spayd led her staff to "soaring heights," characterized by outstanding coverage of politics and by groundbreaking stories that won the top prizes in American journalism.

She "built a record of Pulitzer Prize-winning enterprise and unmatched political coverage," they said.

Spayd also was credited as an innovator who was the "skillful manager of a large and talented staff." Her modesty, demonstrated in her effort to deflect credit to others, as well as her humor, honesty and integrity, earned her the friendship and loyalty of colleagues across the newsroom, Downie and Bennett said.

Spayd described herself as "very excited" about the new job, which she will assume by the end of the year.

Before becoming national editor, Spayd was a deputy national editor, supervising coverage of social issues, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court. In that position, she helped edit the newspaper's coverage of President Bill Clinton's impeachment. She joined The Post in 1988 as national business editor in the financial news section. Later, she worked in the Metro news section, as a reporter on the city staff.

In that job, she impressed newsroom colleagues with an article on bungee jumping. With a rope around her waist, she leapt from a platform 140 feet high. "It was that," she wrote, "or face the tormenting ridicule of colleagues back in the newsroom." So, she said, "I didn't hesitate."


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