Washington Post names ex-Politico executive as publisher

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Washington Post's owner, Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos, has named a former executive from rival Politico as publisher of the 137-year-old newspaper, replacing Katharine Weymouth.

Frederick J. Ryan Jr. will lead the paper, the Washington Post said in a statement on Tuesday. His appointment ends 80 years of control by the Graham family after Weymouth's great-grandfather bought the newspaper at a 1933 auction, according to a separate report in the Post.

"This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for The Post," Weymouth said in the statement.

The move also seals in a new era for the media organisation marked last year when Bezos announced plans to buy the newspaper. The purchase by the wealth technology visionary was seen as a another sign of the steep challenges newspapers face amid declining advertising revenue and readership even as it sparked hope that so-called "old media" could reboot in the face of rapidly changing technology.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for all of us in media," Ryan said in the statement. "The Washington Post is a crown jewel, exemplifying the finest in editorial quality and journalistic values," he said, adding that he was "honoured to follow four generations of Graham family leadership".

Ryan left Politico, owned by Allbritton Communications, last month after announcing his planned departure in 2013. Politico, seen as the Post's main competitor for political coverage, was founded by two former Washington Post reporters.

Ryan said in an interview with the Washington Post that the newspaper has made much progress in growing its digital readership, and that he would seek to continue its "growth strategy," including investing in innovation.

"You don't shrink your way to success," he said, according to the paper. He is expected to start on Oct. 1, the company said. "I know he's excited to meet the team and roll up his sleeves," Bezos said in the statement.

Ryan, 59, served as an administration official under President Ronald Reagan and is chairman of the White House Historical Association and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation, according to the paper's report.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he has edited two books about Reagan, and serves on the board of the university's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, it said.

The Post has received some criticism over the years for having a more liberal bent compared with other publications such as the Washington Times. Its executive editor, Martin Baron, told the paper that he did not see any political implications for its newsroom from the appointment.

"Our news coverage aims to be fair, honest and accurate," he said, according to the report, adding that the paper is"nonideological" and "will remain that way."