Sally Buzbee’s career with The Associated Press included a stop in San Diego in the late 1980s. Image via AP Corporate Communications

A one-time San Diego correspondent for The Associated Press was named Tuesday as the top editor of the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post.

Sally Buzbee, 55, will become executive editor effective June 1, making her the first woman to lead the newsroom in the paper’s 143-year history.

Buzbee succeeds Martin “Marty” Baron, who retired from the paper at the end of February, setting off a 10-week search for his replacement.

Buzbee has been executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press since early 2017, overseeing the AP’s global news operation, which produces content for over 15,000 news outlets from nearly 250 locations worldwide.

Before that, she was Washington bureau chief and vice president of the news service, overseeing AP’s coverage of the White House, Congress, foreign affairs/national security, domestic policy issues, politics and the 2016 campaign.

From 2004 to 2009, she was AP’s Middle East regional editor based in Cairo. She previously was a reporter and editor in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City and Topeka, covering issues including business, education, politics and national security.

A journalism graduate of the University of Kansas, she holds an MBA from Georgetown University. She won the William Allen White Foundation National Citation at Kansas in 2019. Buzbee graduated from high school in Olathe, Kansas, and joined the AP in 1988 as a reporter in Topeka .

Buzbee was named correspondent in San Diego in 1993 and became head of the bureau here. She transferred to Washington in 1995 as education writer. She worked as a supervisory correspondent from April 1993 through February 1995, AP told Times of San Diego.

Besides Olathe, Sally (Streff) Buzbee grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, and also lived in Pleasanton and Plano, Texas.

Under Baron and founder Bezos, who bought the paper for $250 million in 2013, the Post has expanded its newsroom, broadened its coverage and invested in its digital operations. It now has about 3 million digital-only subscribers, up nearly a million in the last year, and a 1,000-person newsroom.

In a memo to staff on Tuesday, Washington Post Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Fred Ryan praised, among other qualities, Buzbee’s work as the AP’s deputy managing editor, a role that “has helped shape her ambitious vision for the Post’s digital future.”

The announcement is the latest in a string of newsroom successions. On May 3 the Los Angeles Times named Kevin Merida as its executive editor. Reuters last month named Alessandra Galloni its new editor in chief, the first woman to lead the news agency in its 170-year history.

In the 1960s, Katharine Graham broke a different glass ceiling at the Post. Graham— who became the paper’s publisher after her husband committed suicide — went on to lead the Post through its coverage of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-in.

She was one of the first female publishers of an American newspaper.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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