The new motto of The Washington Post may be “Democracy dies in darkness,” but, states Adweek, publisher and CEO Frederick Ryan, “uses another maxim for the Jeff Bezos-owned company: “We always want to be the challenger, never the incumbent.”

“Ryan (who was named Adweek’s Publishing Executive of the Year) believes that rallying cry will keep the 140-year-old publication striving into the next century and beyond.

“Bezos recruited the exec to the broadsheet in 2014 as it was ramping up its digital transformation into a consumer-first publication. “Owning the Post for him is not just a hobby,” Ryan says of Bezos. “He has deep views about the importance of the First Amendment and the important role of the press in a free society.”

“Part of the Post’s first-ever national branding campaign, “Democracy dies in darkness” was chosen after 18 months of research and stemmed from “hundreds of other alternatives,” says Ryan.

“Since joining the Post, Ryan has packed the newsroom with “dozens of engineers” who “work side by side with the journalists to design and refine products to serve the newsroom,” he notes. The result: “Our subscriptions have doubled since January and tripled since last year at this time,” says Ryan. The Post was also named Hottest in News—Digital.

“About three years ago, the company began producing its own technology—including the Post’s content management system (CMS), which powers the journalism. “The benefit of that is that you can constantly iterate,” explains Ryan, who finds himself in the newsroom “every day.”

“The system worked so well for the company, it created a separate entity called Arc to make the product available to other news organizations, including Tronc, the New York Daily News, The Globe and Mail in Toronto and others. “It’s been great in terms of bringing in additional revenue,” Ryan says. “It’s been great in terms of helping us to recruit outstanding engineers to be part of something that is empowering not just The Washington Post, but others in the media business. As a result, today we view ourselves as a tech company as much as a media company.”

“Prior to his 19-year run as president and COO of Allbritton Communications, Ryan was chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and also worked in the Reagan White House. At Allbritton, Ryan co-founded Politico, staffing it with many journalists from the Post.”

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