Sally Buzbee, first woman to edit Washington Post, to focus on diversity

The incoming executive editor of the Washington Post has called for a renewed focus on diversity in the media as she prepares to become the first woman in the prestigious role.

In a candid interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Sally Buzbee, the Associated Press chief named this week as the Post’s next senior editor, said newsroom inclusion was “critically important” for the future of the industry.

She spoke out following the publication of an article in Politico that highlighted what it said was “a missing generation” of women at the Post, “blazing stars who you thought were going to take off, but just disappeared” thanks, in the view of a female senior editor quoted anonymously, to an unspoken atmosphere of misogyny.

“We must continue to have sustained focus on diversity, both in terms of gender and also in terms of people of color,” Buzbee told Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter.

“I am always conscious, every day I go to work, every day I talk to my daughters, that I stand really on the shoulders of really brave women and, you know, other people who pushed for diversity, people of color who have been pushing for diversity.

“They were brave and they were strong. They worked very hard, and they really opened doors that many people like myself are lucky enough to now walk through.”

Buzbee, 55, will join the Post in June from the AP, where she is currently executive editor and senior vice-president, having started as a reporter in 1988. She said she welcomed the chance to join the Post newsroom, where she insisted women were valued.

“I’m coming into a structure where I have three very strong women reporting to me, but I do fundamentally think that this is critically important to the future of the profession we love so much,” she said.

Buzbee did not directly address the Politico report, which focused on the Post’s long history of promoting white men to its most senior role, most recently Marty Baron, a widely revered former Boston Globe editor who has retired after more than eight years in charge.

“There are a number of women who were stars at the Post in the past decade who left to become leaders in Silicon Valley, government, business, academia and other news organizations,” Paul Volpe, a former Post employee, wrote in Politico.

Buzbee, who was interviewed for her new job by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person and owner of the Post, said her early focus would be on leading the Post past the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

“What I’m going to do is a lot of learning and listening when I first come in,” she said. “The Post has an enormous firepower of reporting and right now has coverage that is extraordinary across so many areas. What I’m really interested in is thinking about how we can expand that and keep it growing.”


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