WaPo is reportedly closing most of its regional bureaus minus those located in the state capitals of Virginia and Maryland, FishbowlDC has learned. The information comes from a posting from the WaPo Guild Facebook page which sources tell us visible to only people who have been approved by the moderators. The “Vernon” in the posting below is Local Editor Vernon Loeb. The post below was written by WaPo staff writer and Guild representative Frederick Kunkle (as shown here in a picture taken from his Facebook page).
In explanation, just because the bureaus are closing does not mean the various regions won’t be covered. Rather, there will be no bureaus from which to work, a point some WaPo journalists are contending stems from their ongoing local focus, as tweeted today by NYT Social Media Editor Liz Heron: “News that WaPo closing most local bureaus comes after years of focusing resources on local. Motto was ‘For & about Washington’.”
WaPo Ombudsman Patrick Pexton is reportedly looking into the matter. He tweeted about an hour ago, “Checking on report that Post is closing regional MD and VA bureaus, except Richmond and Annapolis. Cost cutting. More later.”
As some of you have probably heard already — and as has been rumored for some time — the Post has decided to shut down all of its regional bureaus except those in the state capitals of Virginia and Maryland. Vernon, in a telephone conversation a little while ago, said that the Post’s leases on suburban bureaus will not be renewed after they expire, beginning in 2012, except in Richmond and Annapolis, which he said will “never” close. Vernon also says that although this is obviously another sign of the Post’s effort to grapple with the economy and the radical changes in the media business, the closure of the physical buildings does not mean that the Post will reduce its local coverage. He emphasized that the Post remains committed to covering our region as aggressively as possible. To that end, he said he will also do everything in his power to use some of the savings from the closure of the bureaus to invest in better mobile technology for reporters. We’ll try to update you further as we hear more. Please remember as we head into this Labor Day weekend that more than ever, tough times require a strong union, and we are only as strong as you are. As the Post continues to shrink, the Guild needs every person it can to become a dues-paying member.
We’ve written WaPo Publicist Kris Coratti for comment.