A Welcome Chorus of Praise for Marty Baron and the Washington Post

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Marty Baron: New energy and a baton that’s not on fire. Photo by Andrew Propp.

By Jack Limpert

David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times, has a lot of nice things to say this morning about Marty Baron and the Washington Post. A few excerpts:

“Nothing in God’s creation is ever as good as it once was, but The Washington Post is coming pretty close.

“The once-embattled newspaper is in the middle of a great run, turning out the kind of reporting that journalists — and readers — live for.”
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“The Post has been guilty of boring its readers in the past, but the current version is a surprising, bumptious news organization — maybe not the pirate ship that Ben Bradlee helmed as executive editor, but it is a sharp digital and daily read. It’s creating challenges for, ahem, its competitors, and bringing significant accountability to the beats it covers.”
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“One of the deeper pleasures of covering the media world is that sometimes a single person, arriving at the right time, can change the fortunes of an organization. Think Tina Brown at The New Yorker, Eugene Roberts at The Philadelphia Inquirer or Adam Moss at New York magazine. At The Post, Mr. Bezos may have ensured the lights stayed on, but it is Martin Baron, who became editor at the beginning of 2013, who pushed the newspaper back into the conversation.”
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“Mr. Baron is a well-traveled and well-thought-of veteran who worked at The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times before becoming the executive editor of The Herald in 2000 and then quickly moving to the top job at The Boston Globe in 2001. In that period, he distinguished himself as a leader of journalists, but at both The Globe and The Herald, his tenure coincided with financial chaos, cuts and reduced ambitions.

“The Post is the first time he has been handed a baton that was not on fire — Marcus Brauchli, the previous editor, was not universally praised but made important moves to modernize its approach to news — and he has run with it.”
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“‘I think The Post is a very confident newsroom right now,’ said Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, who competes against — and is friends with — Mr. Baron. ‘They pick the right stories, throw a lot of reporters at them and go after them hard. That’s a well-led newsroom.'”
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And here is Mike Feinsilber’s column, written three months ago and titled “What’s Going On at the Washington Post?” Some excerpts from what Feinsilber said on July 2, 2014:

“Maybe it is Martin Baron’s brains. Maybe it’s Jeff Bezos’ bucks. But something is going on at the Washington Post: It has become a far better newspaper.

“Take a look at the front page of the Post for Monday, June 30. A story by Tim Craig, headlined ‘Paradise despoiled,’ tells what happened after Taliban militants executed 10 foreigners who were climbing snow-topped Nanga Parbat….The story and pictures filled an inside page. One striking photo took up a third of the page. A useful, informative piece.”

“This is heads-up journalism. We saw some of it in the old Post but not so consistently and rarely in such depth. And not so often on page one.

“The rest of the paper reflects the new energy of the new Post although the Style section sometimes seems stuck in the ’60s and obituaries are shamefully late and have a fill-in-the-blank quality.”

“The Anderson story has fine detail, a reflection of skilled, careful reporting and editing and uses one student’s experience as a mean of exploring a national problem that is a dilemma for everyone involved. Time was when one did not expert to see terrific reporting from the Metro staff, the paper’s backwater. No adrenaline seemed to be pumping there. One felt the paper considered news of the area an afterthought.”

“I don’t have any inside information. I don’t know what accounts for the zest with which the Post is doing its job, although I suspect the editorial energy arrived with Martin Baron. Nor do it—or anyone else, not apparently even Mr. Amazon—know what the financial future holds for the Washington Post. But I want to think that the new commitment to good journalism means that someone in charge thinks journalism has a future.

“And that’s good news.”

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Those poor Post retirees losing health and other benefits must be very happy to see the Post being lauded in the press.

    • Dan Mitchell says:

      Ken, you’re saying that because the Post cut benefits, nobody should comment on the good work being done there?

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