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Washington Post names Sally Buzbee as top editor

Buzbee, previously executive editor of The Associated Press, becomes the first woman to lead the newspaper in its 144-year history.
Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, in New York on Dec. 13, 2018.
Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, in New York on Dec. 13, 2018.Chuck Zoeller / AP file

The Washington Post has tapped Associated Press veteran Sally Buzbee to serve as its next executive editor, putting a seasoned newsroom leader with experience in both Washington and abroad at the helm of one of the nation’s most important newspapers.

Buzbee, the AP’s executive editor and senior vice president since 2017, becomes the first woman to take the top position at the Post in its 144-year history.

Fred Ryan, the Post’s publisher, described her as someone “steeped in the courageous journalism that is The Post’s hallmark, and who can extend our reach to news audiences in the U.S. and abroad,” as well as “a bold leader who can manage our dynamic newsroom and bureaus across the globe.”

Before becoming the AP’s executive editor, Buzbee spent six years as the Washington bureau chief, before which she served as the Middle East editor. She joined the news cooperative in 1988.

She takes over from Marty Baron, who took the position in 2013 and led the Post through some of its most prolific and tumultuous years. He led the paper to 10 Pulitzer Prizes, guided the newsroom through a high-profile ownership transition — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the paper in 2013 — and took a stand against then-President Donald Trump for turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's role in the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Post has such a rich journalistic legacy, and such a terrific staff,” Buzbee said in an interview with her new paper. “It’s exciting to join this organization at a time of growth and innovation.”

Buzbee, originally from Olathe, Kansas, joined the AP as a reporter in Topeka. She was the correspondent in San Diego, and then in 1995 joined the Washington bureau, where she eventually became the assistant bureau chief.

In early 2010, she was promoted to deputy managing editor at the agency’s New York headquarters, and led the founding of the Nerve Center, AP’s hub for global news coordination and customer communication. Later that year, she was named chief of the Washington bureau, where she oversaw coverage of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, the White House, Congress, the Pentagon and the bureau’s polling and investigative teams.

“This is bittersweet news for the AP,” President and CEO Gary Pruitt said. “Sally has been an exceptional leader, guiding AP’s journalists and news report through some of the most pivotal news events of our time. We are sorry to lose Sally but very happy for her as she takes the next step in her career. We look forward to watching Sally succeed at the Post.”

Buzbee will begin her new position June 1. The AP announced Tuesday that it was immediately launching a search for a new executive editor; the process is expected to take a few months.