The Washington Post is 'profitable and growing,' publisher says

The Washington Post is a profitable and growing enterprise, the newspaper's publisher announced in a memo to staffers Tuesday evening.

In the seventh paragraph of a rally-the-troops announcement, Post Publisher Fred Ryan made a winking nod to burying the news:

Not to bury the lede, but thanks to the incredible work of the entire team, The Washington Post will finish this year as a profitable and growing company.

In addition to reinforcing our belief that there is a viable business model in quality journalism, this will provide additional funding for several new initiatives that build upon the successes of this year.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 and invested $50 million into the newspaper in 2015, according to a June story from New York magazine.

Here's Ryan's full memo:

Dear Washington Post Colleagues,

While so much of our focus at The Washington Post has been forward-looking as we experiment and innovate in a rapidly changing media landscape, I want to take this opportunity for a brief look back at what has been a truly remarkable year.

In this unforgettable election cycle that saw many achievements across the entire newsroom, The Washington Post Politics team was the go-to source at virtually every stage of the campaign, breaking many of the biggest stories. Our Editorial team was at the forefront of the conversation with thoughtful editorial positions and a diverse and expanded array of OpEd contributors. The great work of our newsroom was supported by The Post’s world-class Engineering team, which developed new products to better serve our readers and launched Arc Publishing, a venture that is now powering a growing list of major media properties around the world.

The Washington Post shattered all traffic records over the past year, passing traditional competitors and the largest digital sites. With monthly unique visitors pushing 100 million in the U.S. alone and 30 million more from around the world, our traffic has increased by nearly 50% in the past year, extending the reach of Washington Post journalism to a broader national and global audience.

On the subscription front, we’ve more than doubled digital subscription revenue in the past 12 months with a 75% increase in new subscribers since January.

Our Sales team has been very effective in monetizing this surge in audience, with special franchises, new products and innovations in the speed and quality of our ads. As a result, digital advertising revenue has increased by more than 40% over last year’s record performance.

Jeff has encouraged us to seek out “positive surprises” and to experiment in multiple ways. Today, we are witnessing progress as many of those experiments are yielding strong results.

Not to bury the lede, but thanks to the incredible work of the entire team, The Washington Post will finish this year as a profitable and growing company.

In addition to reinforcing our belief that there is a viable business model in quality journalism, this will provide additional funding for several new initiatives that build upon the successes of this year.

Our newsroom is larger this year than last year, and it will grow even more next year. Among the additions will be a new rapid-response investigative team, enhancing our already strong investigative unit. We will substantially expand our video journalism, which has already exceeded all projections and is becoming a key storytelling platform. Additional positions will be added to our breaking-news team, and we will add staff to work on alerts and newsletters. We are adding resources to the Washington Post Talent Network, which has been a very effective tool for expanding the reach of our newsroom. Additional investments will be made in podcasts, in our superb photo team and to support other newsroom initiatives.

As exciting and successful as this year has been, the coming year presents even more opportunities to pursue our bold plans and further promote a culture of innovation. I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be at The Washington Post.

Thank you for all you have done to contribute to this success.

Sincerely,

Fred

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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