Robert Winnett will not join The Post as an editor

British journalist Robert Winnett, tapped to become editor of The Washington Post later this year, will not take the job and will remain at the Daily Telegraph in London, according to a memo obtained by The Post on Friday.

“I am delighted to announce that Rob Winnett has decided to stay with us,” Telegraph editor Chris Evans wrote to staff. “As you all know, he is a talented player and their loss is our gain.”

Winnett, a deputy editor at London’s Telegraph Media Group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Post CEO and publisher Will Lewis confirmed Winnett’s withdrawal From the post, he sent the message “with regret” in a memo to Post employees. “I have the utmost respect for Rob and he is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” Lewis wrote. “The Telegraph reaffirms his continuing role as deputy editor-in-chief of Media Group.”

After days of turmoil at The Post, the sudden departure of managing editor Sally Busbee was prompted by questions about the past practices of both Winnett and Lewis — players who operate by a different set of rules than their American counterparts in London newsrooms.

Lewis announced Winnett’s hiring 2½ weeks ago. They previously worked together at both the Telegraph and the Sunday Times.

A Telegraph spokeswoman said the newspaper would not comment beyond Evans’ Friday staff memo.

In an email to his staff Friday morning, Lewis said The Post will immediately begin a search for a replacement. “We will soon announce both the recruiting firm and the process we will use to ensure a timely but thorough search for this important leadership role,” he wrote.

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Winnett spent his entire career in the British press and was virtually unknown in American media circles. Lewis had announced that Winnett would join The Post after the November U.S. presidential election and oversee the traditional news division.

Since then, reports have surfaced that raise questions about the reporting methods Winnett and Lewis used while working as journalists in Britain.

In a subsequent investigation released on Sunday, the whistleblower-turned-con artist who admitted to Winnett’s contacts admitted to using illegal methods to obtain information for stories at Britain’s Sunday Times, a newspaper where Winnett worked before joining the Telegraph.

The The New York Times Winnett and Lewis have developed some stories based on the stolen records and raised new questions about payments for information, which led to a 2009 government scandal that rocked the British political establishment and led to the resignation of several officials.

Winnett did not respond to inquiries for those reports. Lewis declined to comment.

“The Washington Post sets and models the highest ethical standards in journalism to which every Post employee is expected to adhere,” a Post spokeswoman said earlier this week.

Paying sources for information is considered unethical in most American newsrooms. Impersonating anything other than a journalist in order to obtain confidential information as part of news gathering is a practice referred to as “blogging.” While blogging is illegal in the UK, legal experts say it is defensible if the information obtained is in the public interest, The Post reported.

Lewis mentored Winnett for two decades, bringing him to the Telegraph in 2007.

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In a newsroom meeting earlier this month, Lewis called Winnett a “world-class editor” and “an outstanding investigative journalist,” who he promised would “bring even more investigative rigor back to our organization.”

The disruption at the top of The Post’s newsroom is delaying Lewis’ plans to overhaul The Post this year. A new division of the newsroom — dubbed the “Third Newsroom” and focused on reaching audiences who don’t already consume post content — will now launch in the first quarter of 2025, Lewis wrote in a Friday memo to employees.

Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Matt Murray — another former Lewis associate — was recently hired to replace Buzbee on an interim basis and run a “third newsroom” after the 2024 election. He will continue as managing editor after the November races.

Earlier this month, media reports described Lewis’ efforts to prevent journalists from covering his involvement in the long-running British phone-hacking case. Lewis has denied that Post reporters tried to cover up the story. NPR journalist David Folkenfelic also shared his account of Lewis trying to persuade him to drop a story about the case in exchange for an exclusive story about The Post’s plans; Lewis called Folkenflik “an activist, not a journalist.”

Lewis worked at Rupert Murdoch’s News International to help with a corporate cleanup in the wake of the phone hacking and police bribery scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World tabloid. Lewis later served as publisher of the Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones, a property owned by Murdoch.

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The current civil suit related to the cleanup does not name Lewis as a defendant, but a judge has allowed allegations that Lewis and others tried to suppress information about the hacking to air. He has denied wrongdoing and has previously said his role in the phone hacking cleanup was to protect journalistic values ​​and practices such as protecting evidence.

This story will be updated.

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