Leonard Downie Jr will step down after 17 years as the top editor of The Washington Post, he told his newsroom staff on Monday, making way for a generational transition under a new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, at a time of financial and technological strain for newspapers.
A successor was not named, but Weymouth will appoint a new executive editor in a few weeks, according to Post officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Downie, 66, will leave the Post newsroom on 8 September, after more than four decades, to become a vice-president of The Washington Post Co.
“A new, young publisher needs a new, younger editor,” Downie told a gathering of a few hundred people in the Post’s main newsroom.
Downie has led the Post’s newsroom through an especially strong period, as the paper became one of the best and most important in the country and won many awards, including 27 Pulitzer Prizes. This year, it won six Pulitzers for its work in 2007. Downie oversaw a period of expansion—especially in the Post’s local and suburban news coverage—followed by one of contraction. In recent years, he has presided over cutbacks reducing the news staff by more than one-quarter, to about 700 people.
©2008/THE NEW YORK TIMES