Sunday, February 12, 2012

NYT on The Washington Post, at a crossroads

From a new story in today's New York Times, about major changes at The Washington Post under Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli; only last week, the Post -- as at Gannett -- announced another round of buyouts.

Brauchli has reacted to the upheaval by overseeing one of the most sweeping and closely watched reorientations of any newsroom in the country. The editors now stress online metrics and freely borrow from the playbooks of more nimble online competitors like Politico and The Huffington Post.

The outcome of their efforts could offer a high-profile case study on how a company can foster an entrepreneurial, digital culture while remaining true to its heritage. But the transformation has been far from easy.


  1. I work at USA Today, and much of what I read in the e rang true for what is happening, and should be happening, here.

    Perhaps what is needed most at usat ia ruthless outsider with hard news experience and the ability to dismantle a top heavy management structure. An editor who will reassign resources to where the are actually needed. Someone who also realizes that many in the newsroom are clearly over their heads and need to go.

    Cutting in and of itself accomplishes nothing, except protecting those in power and their friends. We have many editors and reporters who contribute little to the product. They can't be count on or won't be, for a variety of reasons. They aren't only sucking up large salaries, they suck up morale and breed festering resentment.

    1. Interesting post. I guarantee that within ten minutes of the announcement of the new Executive Editor, whomever she or he may be, the majority of posts will tear them apart. The "Founders" will scream the loudest! There is no pleasing you negative Nellies.

  2. I start Monday and the first thing I would do is get rid of someone like you.

  3. Obviously, you think things are perfect at the paper and website. Which means you are the one who needs to do something besides attend meetings and kiss ass. Tell us what your vast contributions to the daily operation are.

  4. Did you read the Times piece, 11:23? Do so before you start attacking ose who have. Then tell us how things are different at USA today.

  5. 11:43 represents the self protecting, self indulgent all knowing mamgement class. Do not challenge them, they are way too insecure to hear contrarian opinion.

  6. The founders are part ofmthe problem. How many remain in key decision makinng decision nearly 30 years after the paper's startup?

    How many new or old managers would refuse a bonus, as the Washpo editor did? How many woul defer platitudes as he did?

  7. USA Today is doing many of the same things the Washington Post is. In fact, we integrated print and digital long before Brauchi got around to it.

    We are all about traffic too; whether that is good or not remains to be seen.

    But it is not like the Post is embarking on some daring direction.

  8. The New York Times only continues to survive because of the largess of a Mexican billionaire and the Washington Post is offering buyouts to survive. Two organizations you USAT haters love to point to. Times are tough all over folks. Stop crapping where you eat

  9. News organ of the ruling class (NY Times) writes about news organ of the US government (Wash. Post). To borrow from Soviet days of old, this would be Pravda writing about Izvestia.

  10. 4:46 That Mexican billionaire's investment was hardly benevolent: Carlos Slim loaned the NYT Co. $250 million at 14% interest.

    And, in any case, the company paid Slim back early.

    Since then, he's become a big shareholder. But that, too, isn't an act of charity.

  11. My point is Jim, that the NYT had fallen on hard times as has TWP. But somehow input fail to understand that. Of course you don't get birthday gifts from their sycophants.

  12. The point of the post was to compare the woes of the wash post to what is happening at USAT. More similarities than differences. It isnt a dig at any publication. I think that is why Jim points it out on the blog.

    I found the piece interesting. I was also impressed with the editor's decision not to take a bonus in lieu of the company's performance. That is not something Hunke or his team would ever do. Because of course, they are worth every cent they are being paid.

    The NYT has it's own problems. But even Hunke, at a recent staff meeting, has said it is the best publication in the world.

  13. In my opinion, the New York Times as its currently structured is living on borrowed time. The family that controls the Times has foregone dividends for the past five years to avoid making significant cuts in staffing and news coverage. Although that's a laudable move, it seems inevitable that this large, complicated family will tire of living without profits from the family business. At some point, a significant faction will demand that the New York Times make the same scale of cuts that every other large newspaper has already made. And let's not forget that the Times' main rival, the Wall Street Journal, has about twice the national and international circulation as the Times. Eventually, the hard business reality that has hit every other paper will hit the Times.

  14. Nice gesture by Brauchli to turn down the bonus, but it's not like he took a big financial hit. He got a payout of $6.4 million when he left the WSJ for WaPo:

  15. 10:48 You make a valid, and sadly, likely correct point. But I'm among those who believe the NYT needs to survive for the sake of the democracy. I'm willing to pay to get Sunday paper at home and get unlimited online access. It helps the Times eek out a few more years of good ad revenue from paper. Many others do not pay and get through the purposely porous paywall. A bit like NPR - many listen, but a few contribute.
    Sadly, USAT jumped the shark years ago. I don't see journalism on a regular basis that is worth paying for. And the WaPo is bleeding itself out as well.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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