Pappu Talks

Last week, we reported that Sridhar Pappu, who left the Washington Post’s coveted Style political reporter gig in February after less than a year on the job, had taken a position as the upstart Washington Independent’s national politics reporter (see his first full piece for the Independent here). Pappu has also previously worked at Sports Illustrated and The Atlantic.

We chatted with Pappu this morning about his tenure at the Post, his thoughts on the Style section and his own goals at the Independent.

After the jump…

  • “After the Post, my idea was I had this book project I’ve been working on for a while. I really was looking for an editor more than a job.” When asked to elaborate on that last part, Pappu said: “In places where I’ve been really successful I’ve had editors like [The New York Observer’s] Peter Kaplan and [The Atlantic’s] Cullen Murphy whose vision I truly believed in. … To use a football metaphor, I like having a head coach and you being the quarterback and you sort of executing the general philosophy of the head coach.” Pappu said that his book — which is in the proposal stages — is about the Freedom Summer in his Ohio hometown.

  • Pappu said that Independent editor Allison Silver (BIO: “a former editor at The New York Times ‘Week in Review’ section. She was the editor of The Los Angeles Times Sunday ‘Opinion’ section from 1991 to 2000. She was Politics Producer for ‘Charlie Rose.'”) fit his description of the perfect editor, and he praised “her approach, her ideas about politics, her ideas about power. … I had heard nothing but good things about her.” He quickly realized that “this is the person I want to work for.”

  • Pappu reflected on his short tenure at the Washington Post. “At the end of the day, it was just a really bad fit from both perspectives. When I left, I realized that I was not necessarily happy with my work when I was there. … I was grateful for the opportunity that was provided me and I got to do a lot of cool stuff but where Style is moving and where the political coverage of the Post is moving, I’m not really sure of and it was just something that didn’t work out. I’m not broke up by it. I’m not disheartened by it.”

    “It was a year when I had some good stories, some not so good stories, but at the end of the day, I was never able to build a franchise for myself and that was my goal going into it–build myself as a franchise and a must read and I wasn’t able to do that. And when you’re not able to do that — when you’re not able to make yourself absolutely essential — there’s really no point sticking around.”

  • When asked if he views his Washington Post-to-Washington Independent move as a step down, Pappu said: “It’s just a better fit, quite honestly. I’m excited because I’m back in the small environs and a lot’s counting on me. There’s a lot to do. I don’t few it as a step down at all. I’ve been working as a reporter since I was 19 and the brand name doesn’t mean as much as the actual work itself. With the Independent, I’ve found a place where not only could I build a franchise for myself, but also work with someone whose vision I shared. I can also help grow the thing and that seemed like a really exciting thing to me.”