Post Co. Names Weymouth Media Chief and Publisher
Friday, February 8, 2008
Katharine Weymouth, a granddaughter of the late Washington Post Co. chairman Katharine Graham, has been named chief executive of Washington Post Media, a new division that will oversee The Washington Post newspaper and its online component, washingtonpost.com, the company said yesterday.
Weymouth, 41, will also serve as the newspaper's publisher, the fifth member of the Graham newspaper dynasty to hold that title since her great-grandfather, Eugene Meyer, bought The Post at a bankruptcy sale in 1933. She is the niece of Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham and the daughter of Newsweek Senior Editor Lally Weymouth and architect Yann Weymouth.
The newspaper and Web site operate separately and only Graham oversaw both; he also oversees the entire Post Co., which has several business units. In her new job, Weymouth will take responsibility for the paper and Web site from Graham and closely examine the business and advertising departments of the newspaper and Web site, a process that may lead to merging some operations.
"We hope to get under the sheets, look at each other more closely, exchange information more freely and figure out what areas we can be more effective in working closely together and what areas should remain separate," Weymouth said.
The announcement came at the annual state of The Post meeting, which also produced other news: In March, the company will offer an undetermined number of early-retirement packages, or buyouts, to Post newsroom staffers and other employees. Also, the company will close its College Park printing plant over the next two years, moving two of the four multi-story Mitsubishi presses to its larger Springfield plant, which will handle the paper's entire press run with six presses.
The Post offered buyouts in 2003 and 2006, which culled about 120 employees. Buyouts are designed to reduce payroll by offering exit packages to older employees, who tend to have higher salaries. The March buyout offer will be extended to union-covered and management employees, the company said. No details of the plan were released yesterday, but some general information may be available later in the month, the company said, with details to come in March.
Declining print circulation, as well as a number of other circumstances, has led to the closure of the College Park printing site, which opened in 1999. The Post spent $250 million on new presses for its two suburban sites. Post daily circulation peaked at 832,232 in 1993; it now sells an average of 638,000 papers Monday through Saturday. The Post has not decided what it will do with the College Park plant, nor has it determined the status of the plant's approximately 250 full- and part-time employees.
As publisher, Weymouth succeeds Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., 61, who has had the position since 2000. He will become vice chairman of The Post Co., working with Graham on company-wide issues. In addition to the newspaper, The Post Co. owns the Kaplan education company, Cable One cable company, six television stations and several other publications, including Newsweek, Express and Slate.
At yesterday's meeting, Graham pointed out that Weymouth is the only Post Co. executive who has held senior positions at the paper and the Web site, a key qualification as the two media outlets continue to converge.
Graham also noted that "our rate of success with publishers named Katharine has been outstanding."
Weymouth said: "While it is humbling to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors, it is also very exciting. I will do my best to honor their legacy and uphold the tradition they built of journalistic excellence supported by a first-rate business operation."
Weymouth joined The Post in 1996 and has been vice president of Post advertising since 2005. She has served as counsel for both The Post and its Web site in addition to holding other advertising jobs at the paper. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and practiced law at Williams & Connolly in Washington prior to coming to The Post.