‘Washington Times Communities’ In Crisis

The Washington Times

The Washington Times is dumping its “Communities” page, causing “Communities” editor Jacquie Kubin to start a mad dash to move all the content located there to a new site. In emails to “Communities” contributors obtained by FishbowlDC, a frantic Kubin details her fraught relationship with TWT and her efforts to wrest control of the “Communities” content away from the paper.

“The Chines [sic] symbols for crisis are ‘danger” and “opportunity,'” Kubin says in one email. “Working with TWT has always been a challenge.  They are a client, but have always felt they were a parent.  Things are changing: What we have in front of us is opportunity. And I like opportunity.”

The “Washington Times Communities” page is a collaboration between TWT and a company started by Kubin in 2009 called Communities Digital News. The result is a platform designed to allow citizen-journalists to write columns on a wide range of issues hosted at The Washington Times website. “Communities” columns are not actually edited by TWT staff, but rather by Kubin herself, who has a contractual relationship with TWT.

That relationship, however, is changing -though it is unclear what is actually happening. On January 10th, Kubin seemed to think that TWT was going to maintain connections with Communities Digital News, though she insinuates that trouble is brewing:

TWT, as they always have, is trying to dictate our business and business model.   Will we be severing ties?  No.  Will who and what we are at TWT change.  Yes.

But two days later, on January 12, the situation was already spiraling out of control:

The following information is not for dissemination or sharing with any other person and is intended only for the recipiet [sic] Things are changing quickly… And though I am trying to salvage what I may, lets be prepared for a worst case scenario Please go to Communities (communites.washingtontimes.com) and make sure you take screen shots of any stories that you wish to keep copies of… Please do not correspond with editors, or me, via the communities email addresses.  Please use addresses as listed above. We are moving to our own website; and this is good.  TWT now takes 60-75% of ever dollar we make.  That in and of itself is good reason to move.

Kubin goes on:

We will rebuild Communities and we will use our best practices and all the combined social networking and knowledge of all the incredible writers — being you, and you and you — to create something bigger, better and without the many editorial and financial restrictions, not to mention the toll on the health of the editors — as we can. We know how to do this.  We all know how to do this.  We will do this and we will break ground with this as we move forward.

As we reported late last year, new Editor John Solomon has been shaking things up recently at TWT. He let several reporters go right before Christmas, but has promised that even more will be hired in the new year. He has also articulated a vision of a multimedia-focused future for TWT.

FishbowlDC will be reporting more on developments in The Washington Times newsroom as we get more information, so check back here for updates.