According to Ben Bradlee the reason that WaPo hired outsider Marcus Brauchli to replace departing executive editor Len Downie was that there was no “home-grown” person ready to do the job. Says Bradlee: “They didn’t think they had a guy ready. If they got the right guy, that is good. It is as simple as that.” Downie, however, says that it was merely a matter of Weymouth finding the right person for the job and that Brauchli’s lack of Post experience is not an issue. Post reporters also appear to be optimistic about their new boss, longtime Postie Dana Priest says not only are people relieved that the position has been filled but are more than willing to give Brauchli the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile,
James Grimaldi says that he wishes him “all the luck in the world” because basically the future of humanity rests on Brauchli’s success (actually just “the future of The Washington Post and…what Post journalism means” but still, no pressure!).
Over at Slate Jack Shafer seems to think none of this matters much at all since as far as newspapers are concerned the power resides with the publisher.
As much as journalists like to pretend that editors shape newspapers, the real power has always belonged to publishers. Executive editors come and go at the New York Times, but the Sulzbergers stay. Nobody but a trivia hound remembers the names of all the editors who served under Otis Chandler at the Los Angeles Times. And Col. Robert McCormick the Chicago Tribune publisher had greater impact on journalism than Col. Robert McCormick the Tribune editor.Also, Shafer thinks Brauchli ought to give back his rumored $3-$5 million WSJ severance package lest his new employees think of him as “the guy who zipped his lips for $3 million.” That and the fact that Shafer thinks people need to be reminded yearly of “what a seething bag of deceit and double-dealing Murdoch is.”