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'Washington Post' Shuts Bureaus

Editor says move is about office space, not personnel
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In a bid to save money, the Washington Post is shuttering six of eight local bureaus, although the paper says the move won't lead to a reduction in headcount.

In a memo to staff explaining the decision to let leases on the bureaus expire, executive editor Marcus Brauchli said the paper decided it could use its office space more efficiently. He said the Post would maintain its staffing levels in the suburbs and that in some cases it plans to take smaller offices in the same communities. Savings from the move will free up money for technology that would let reporters file remotely, Brauchli said.

"We are doing this because we have more space than we can use in many places, not because we are retrenching," he wrote.

Still, the news was greeted with chagrin by some. Amy Gardner, a national political reporter at the Post, tweeted: “A sad day at The Washington Post, with the news that we're closing all of our local bureaus except Richmond and Annapolis.”

In recent years the Post has scaled back its bureaus, closed several sections, and slashed its staff by more than 22 percent, to under 700. In 2009, the Post closed its last three national bureaus, in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, to cut costs. But the Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division still had an operating loss of $15.7 million in the first six months of this year, and print ad revenue was down 12 percent. Revenue was also down at Kaplan, the Post Co.’s education business, the success of which had been propping up the company as a whole. 

The Post’s other journalistic entities have been challenged. Last year, the company unloaded Newsweek for $1. The year before that, it sold Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine. And last week, online news magazine Slate laid off four people in a cost-cutting move.