Martin Baron will retire from his job as the executive editor of the Washington Post on Sunday. Steven Spielberg, Liev Schreiber, and Post owner Jeff Bezos (who continues to recycle his thoughts about swashbuckling) submitted clips to an all-staff video farewell Thursday, Joe Pompeo reports in Vanity Fair. Managing editor Cameron Barr will serve as interim honcho until Baron’s replacement is named.
Baron came to the post in January 2013 following the ouster of its previous executive editor, Marcus Brauchli. He arrived from the Boston Globe, where he earned a reputation as a “scrupulous and efficient budget-slicer,” as Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote, as well as someone who managed to maintain journalistic ambition during difficult economic circumstances. That was certainly the case at the Post, where revenues, readership, and optimism among many staffers were plummeting before Bezos purchased it for $250 million later that year. Bezos took a pipe wrench to the publication’s rusted money valves and retooled it as a national-facing, digitally oriented news source. Absent Bezos, Baron told Pompeo, “we would have been facing the same kinds of severe difficulties that other regional news organizations face today. … I don’t know how we could have gotten out of that mess.”
Bezos’s investment was like rocket fuel for the Post under Baron. As he wrote in a note to staffers last month, the Post had fewer than 600 people in its newsroom in 2013; it’s budgeted to have more than a thousand this year. Online readership has blossomed, and journalism prizes—a metric by which many newsroom leaders measure success—have continued to rain on the publication, most recently four George Polk awards.
The search for Baron’s replacement is ongoing.