The Washington Post, the stalwart of print journalism in the District of Columbia, made less than impressive news last week when their second in command, Editor Phillip Bennett stepped down from his post. We covered the story, noting that this is the second executive level editor to resign from DC’s grey lady in several months.
The Post wasted no time in hiring two new managing editors. Though we have an inquiry in to the Post for comment, it is unclear, at this time, if these positions are an attempt to replace the two vacancies or if these are two new positions that exist to oversee the merger of the Washington Post print entity and the troubled WPNI, the online arm of the company.
Notably, one of the new editors, Elizabeth Spayd, is the first woman to fill the role of Managing Editor in the history of the newspaper. She has been with the Post for years and will fill the role of covering the “hard news” according to the article published in the newspaper this morning.
Increasingly, the female role in journalism and news is being noticed. At BlogHer, the role of women in all aspects of life is front and center, and the editors and writers – many of whom would qualify under any rational spit test as journalists – had a significant impact on the election as influencers emerged on both sides.
In the District, the role of women in government also is gaining a head of steam. In the new media community alone, influencers such as Leslie Bradshaw and Jen Nedeau are working with New Media Strategies to affect change. Shireen Mitchell, the Vice Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, is effectively spotlighting women in technology and government. It seems only natural that the most prominent newspaper in Washington would name a woman to one of their top posts.
Early last month, after the Tribune Company announced that it would enter bankruptcy protection, the conversation surrounding the demise of newspapers and the newspaper industry heated back up. Of course, we suggested that there should be an opportunity for new media to emerge in the newsrooms.
Today, the news comes from the New York Times that Phillip Bennett, the number two man at the Washington Post is stepping down joining the former WashingtonPost.com executive editor, Jim Brady, who also resigned recently.
The Washington Post was one of the early newspapers who tinkered with social media tools in their online offering by utilizing a widget to display links to blogs that wrote about their stories. However, since then, they have not innovated all that much. Sure, they have blogs, but what major newspapers doesn’t? And really, does a blog matter if it isn’t compelling?
If I were on the inside of the Washington Post, I’d offer the following roadmap to a viable business entity.
- Combine resources of online and print media. No story should be exclusive to one or the other.
- Recognize that the business future does not lie in print and print subscriptions, but in online. Change business model to reflect a more traditional online content network. This is a wide swing from a subscription paper model.
- Develop content sharing partnerships with other newspapers. Washington Post has already done this with the Baltimore Sun. Suggest the The Times of London, Sydney Morning Herald or the San Francisco Chronicle to round out other-coastly or international perspective. Not sure how this would be mutually beneficial, but each publication will have its own interests that would need to be examined.
- Replace the Op-Ed section with blogs but use syndicated content from external blogs. Eliminate home grown blogs altogether.
- Develop online video channel on YouTube and bring into the online WaPo offering.
- In a related sense, develop a rich media network of content including podcasts – maybe primarily podcasts, due to the lack of exclusive attention required.
- Hire internally, or bring someone in from outside, to help the online business adapt to the new and changing landscape involving the internet and social media. The Toronto Globe & Mail did this with Mat Ingram.
I’d like to throw out one self-serving offer, since I know that there are increasingly a number of newspapers who are watching, reading or otherwise paying attention to our content here – I’m happy to discuss opportunities where I can step in and help. Sometimes that outside set of eyes is what is needed. Drop me a line at email@example.com or call me at (410) 608-6620.