Post Prepares Shake-up

The Washington Post is preparing some major shake-ups, we’re learning.

Most ominously, there’s an all-staff meeting scheduled for next week that may or may not involve another round of “buy-outs.” Sources close to the Post say that lay-offs, certainly those on the scale of the NYT and the Inky earlier in the week, are unlikely but that cost-trimming is certainly the name of the game. The Meeting comes as the Post is cracking down on the routine expenses that have long passed muster within the paper. There better be a pretty good story behind that next $12 taxi cab ride, editors are telling front-line reporters.

As for the paper’s internal structure, the paper announced to staff this week that the entire oversight system of the daily paper was being reshaped. Normally the weekday papers have long been the province of Executive Editor Len Downie and his trusty sidekick, Phil Bennett, and the paper’s AMEs have rotated through handling the Sunday papers. Now, because of a sense that the Sunday paper has suffered from a “sense of isolation and lost focus” even as it’s the biggest paper of the week, Bennett will be personally supervising the Sunday paper.

“The purpose of this change is to help make the Sunday paper as vital and urgent as the best of our weekday papers and to strengthen its role as the showcase for the best enterprise reporting and writing from across the staff,” the memo explains. “We want it to be uncommon for its brilliance, and reliable in its service to readers. To accomplish this, we intend to create a bolder and more consistent (and, yes, sometimes more disciplined) culture of innovation, newsiness, and utility on weekends — and a Sunday paper that more clearly reflects those values.”

As the new Sunday guru, Bennett–who under the new arraignment has the awful schedule of getting Sundays and Wednesdays off–will be working throughout the week to ensure a high-quality paper, including at two new story budget meetings during the week.

Full memo after the jump.


The Sunday Washington Post

Beginning this weekend, Phil will supervise our weekend editions as part of his role as managing editor.

The purpose of this change is to help make the Sunday paper as vital and urgent as the best of our weekday papers and to strengthen its role as the showcase for the best enterprise reporting and writing from across the staff. While the Sunday Post remains our biggest and most widely circulated paper of the week, the home of superb investigations and original narrative, it has suffered in circulation and, at times, from a sense of isolation and lost focus. We want the Sunday paper to seem less the last paper of the preceding week and more the first paper of the next week. We want it to be uncommon for its brilliance, and reliable in its service to readers. To accomplish this, we intend to create a bolder and more consistent (and, yes, sometimes more disciplined) culture of innovation, newsiness, and utility on weekends — and a Sunday paper that more clearly reflects those values.

We will be addressing not only the quality of the Sunday front page, but the organization and planning of the entire Sunday paper. Phil will work with department heads on their individual missions and to better coordinate them across the paper. He’ll manage a schedule of upcoming projects and major enterprise planned for weekend. Throughout the week, we’ll aim to build new momentum that treats the Sunday paper not as an island nation, with its own customs, rules and time zone, but as the richest and most fertile patch of our home turf.

The change in editing duties will alter some of our weekly rhythm. Len will continue to run the daily paper on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Phil will be in charge on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (he’ll be off Sundays and Wednesdays). Milton will supervise A1 for the Monday paper.

We will solicit developing weekend plans at a new meeting early in the week. A weekly story conference to present Sunday budgets will be held on Thursday afternoon at 2:30, after the daily story conference. We’ll discontinue the Friday weekend meeting.

Although we are ending the weekend rotation of AMEs, selected senior editors will continue to supervise A1 on Saturdays and Sundays when Phil or Milton is absent.