WashPost.com Can’t Give Its Tchotchkes Away

Here at the Editor & Publisher interactive conference near Las Vegas, Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor of Continuous News Rajiv Chandrasekaran (far right next to .com’s Jim Brady) said that, while it used to be that the .com side would use all kinds of “tchotchkes” to bribe the print people into writing for the website, no more.

The box full of “Washingtonpost.com” T-shirts and water bottles, etc. “literally hasn’t been touched in more than a year” because these days the reporters want to get on the Web, knowing the audience for the homepage is bigger than the paper’s front page, among other reasons, Chandrasekaran said. “I get a message a half-dozen times a day from people who want better placement on the homepage.” He gave the example of a State Dept. reporter who recently got about 400 words well inside the paper for a story on Condoleeza Rice and Burma, but asked for placement on the homepage in the morning–Asia time–because he felt readers there would be interested.

He also said it’s very rare these days for a reporter who used to be print only (and now has to do online chats, radio, maybe video) to ask for more money. They understand, he said, that the health of the company — and, by extension, their own 401(k) plans — depends on them contributing on whatever outlet is needed. “(Executive Editor) Len Downie has made it very clear that filing for the Web site is just as important … it is part of people’s job descriptions.” Some 900 people are in the main newsroom, about 75 in the Virginia-based .com building.