Washington Post Editor Marty Baron: From His Hiring in 2012 to His Retiring in 2021

Below is a post from November 12, 2012, when Marty Baron was hired as executive editor of the Washington Post. It was the year before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Post from the Graham family for $250 million and quickly transformed it into a newspaper aimed almost entirely at worldwide digital growth at the expense of local news. Baron said today he will retire as executive editor on February 28th.

Last  week New York Times media columnist David Carr started a small battle with the Post when he slammed Post publisher Katharine Weymouth for lacking style in the way she forced out executive editor Marcus Brauchli. That led to debates about the print and digital strategies of the two newspapers, including whether the Post is trying to go too local. . . .

Brauchli is being replaced by Marty Baron, who’s had lots of exposure to Times thinking from his years at the Times and the Times-owned Boston Globe. Here’s what he’ll find in Washington.

The Post’s A section goes head-to-head with the Times. It focuses on international and national news—plus some business news, not much of it local. The Style section is full of New York Times envy, leaving many Washington readers wondering what Style is talking about. The Post’s Metro section has to cover a sprawling DC-Maryland-Virginia circulation area and the section seems way too small and too erratic–inside the Post newsroom the National staff is the major leagues and the Metro staff is the minor leagues.

If Baron looks at the fact that the Post is a monopoly newspaper, he should set out to deliver a newspaper that serves both an upscale market, as the Times does, and the tabloid market, as the Daily News and New York Post do. Put some lively local stories on the front page and in the A section, put some feature writers in Style who  could do good human interest stories for a tabloid. Put as many major league writers and reporters in the Metro section as are now covering national and international news.  Keep improving sports—it’s local and pretty good as it is. And, as suggested earlier, think about combining Style and Metro into a bigger, better section.

The bottom line: Don’t listen to David Carr. Don’t try to be the New York Times.

A note: Look at the Sunday magazines of the Times and Post if you want to see another reason why the Post shouldn’t try to be a New York Times clone. The Times magazine has lots of upscale ads and is delivered as part of the Sunday newspaper. The Post’s Sunday magazine has faint echoes of the Times Sunday magazine but has much less advertising and not much is upscale. One magazine feels like Neiman-Marcus, the other like KMart.

Speak Your Mind