Washington Post Publisher Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. sent the following note to staff today:
Dear Washington Post Colleagues,
This week will mark six months since you welcomed me to this extraordinary publication. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the warm reception I have received and to give you an update on several new initiatives underway.
We have taken on an ambitious goal of vastly expanding our readership to a broader national and global audience. The results are impressive with our total digital audience expanding to over 48 million unique visitors last month, a record that marks 63% growth over last year. Our mobile audience grew to an all-time high exceeding 31 million unique visitors—an 80% increase over last year. This exceptional growth exceeds that of any of our key competitors.
User engagement is high with our total page views nearing 500 million for the first time, which is 109% growth year over year. We are attracting one of the largest and fastest growing millennial audiences among major media outlets, an impressive sign that Washington Post journalism is becoming essential to a new generation of readers.
These past few months, we have added to the strong Washington Post team with some incredibly talented new members. Steve Gibson, a highly respected media executive, has joined us as Chief Financial Officer and Jed Hartman, one of the most innovative and admired people in advertising today has signed on as Chief Revenue Officer. Recognizing internal excellence, Tracy Grant has been promoted to Deputy Managing Editor, Beth Diaz to Vice President of Audience Development & Analytics and Kris Coratti to Vice President of Communications – all terrific additions to the leadership team. Leili Boroumand joined us earlier this month as Director of Business Development and she has hit the ground running.
To lead an expanded offering to the “leadership audience” of decision makers and influentials, the Newsroom has added to its ranks with well-regarded journalist Rachel Van Dongen. As leader of the business side of this important initiative, we are today announcing the hiring of Alex Treadway for the newly created position of Vice President of Leadership Market Sales.
The excellence of Washington Post journalism has won many important accolades these past few months, with Carol Leonnig receiving the Polk Award for her outstanding reporting on weaknesses in Secret Service protection of the President; our late colleague, Michel du Cille, being honored by both the White House News Photographers Association and Photographer of the Year International award for his work on Ebola; our headline writers just received the top award from the American Copy Editors Society; and our design teams picked up an unprecedented 150 awards from the Society for News Design. Just last week Dan Balz was honored with the Toner Award for political reporting, and the American Society of News Editors Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity went to Sari Horwitz.
The Washington Post was named this month by Fast Company Magazine as the “Number One Most Innovative Media Company in the World.” We can all take pride in this great recognition of the culture of innovation and transformation underway at The Post.
We are laser-focused on operating as a nimble, forward-looking company with a culture of innovation and swift implementation.
As part of this transformation, we have undertaken a thoughtful analysis of our staff structure in non-Newsroom positions, to be certain that we are deploying our resources in ways consistent with today’s rapidly changing media model and our bold vision for the future. As a result, we have decided to internally transfer or eliminate certain non-Newsroom positions, where appropriate. That process has been concluded and most of those directly affected by these structural changes have already been notified. Decisions that eliminate or restructure positions are difficult to make and even harder to receive. We came to these decisions after much careful deliberation and with great appreciation for the colleagues who feel the impact of this realignment.
The media world is changing at an even faster pace than ever before. To continue on our trajectory of growth and expansion, we must be in a constant state of transformation with the nimbleness and speed of execution to lead and innovate in this rapidly evolving space.
As we pursue our ambitious expansion strategy, we will continue our investment in the Newsroom. Seventeen journalists have been hired in the first three months of the year and more to come. Among these new additions is Lois Romano, returning to lead an expanded Washington Post Live program. Later this week, we will be announcing the hiring of a new leader of PostTV, our major investment in video news production. The PostTV team has achieved dramatic growth this past year and is positioned for tremendous success going forward.
Through the innovations of our world-class team of engineers, Washington Post content will expand to reach an even larger audience. Our new “Rainbow” national app that launched late last year on Fire tablet devices has been a tremendous success, with a large loyal audience coming to The Post through this new offering. The users on this new platform are sharing our exceptional journalism with others at unprecedented rates. We will be launching this new Rainbow national app on all other devices later this year, and expanding the experience to phones and beyond. For Post advertisers, this new Rainbow platform is becoming a “game changer,” with reader engagement at levels vastly exceeding traditional click through rates.
We have taken internal ownership of our technology future and are rapidly building our own platforms, which has enabled us to innovate faster and provide higher-quality service to readers, advertisers, and the Newsroom. As you have observed over the past year, our technology team has made our site and apps faster, improved stability and reliability, and significantly enhanced our Newsroom’s storytelling capabilities. The Content Management System design initiative has been a huge success and we are offering this proprietary new CMS to select universities across the country with the intention to eventually license it to other publishers across the globe.
This transformational thinking and spirit of innovation is reflected across all departments at The Post. Having recently spent time with the Production Facility and Delivery Teams, it is clear that innovation is at the center of everything they do. Our loyal print readership is an important priority to The Post and we will continue to serve them with a top-quality product on their doorstep each morning.
From a financial standpoint, I am pleased to report that the company finished 2014 strong and, with the end of the first quarter upon us, 2015 is off to an excellent start.
With so many wins in the first quarter alone, we have every reason to feel excited about what the rest of the year holds. But we cannot take our foot off the accelerator—we must continue to be unrelenting in our focus on the innovation and dedication to excellence that is leading to these achievements.
I’d like to thank all of you for your hard work, dedication and focus on the future. Our next Town Hall is set for Wednesday, April 8, where we can discuss these and other initiatives in more detail. I hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.