The Washington Post's 'identity crisis'

By Steve Safran 

The New Republic has a withering report about the state of affairs at The Washington Post. The report is based upon interviews with 50 current and former staffers. The report paints a picture of a newspaper suffering a severe identity crisis with infighting between print and online:

“(The Post‘s) peers seem to have coherent strategies for saving themselves: The New York Times is doubling down on journalism in the belief that it can persevere online as the global newspaper of record; The Wall Street Journal remains the country’s definitive chronicler of business; other large papers have tried to distinguish themselves by burrowing into local issues. But the Post seems to be paralyzed-and trapped. It can’t go completely local because the local news in Washington is, in many respects, national; and its status as the paper of record for national politics is under assault from numerous competitors–competitors it isn’t clear the Post can defeat.”

The article cites incidences of management arrogance, internecine battles, disagreement over the direction and identity of The Post and, above all, hubris. The lesson for us is a pretty old one: You can’t be all things to all people.

UPDATE: WaPo’s CEO issues a rebuttal to The New Republic: “Every few years, a writer for The New Republic or some similar magazine comes forward to announce the collapse of standards and journalism at The Washington Post. Having read these stories for 40 years, I found Gabriel Sherman’s piece particularly lazy. Not much new here…”

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