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Newcomers Make Waves at Post.com

Is the Washington Post merging its Virginia-based online operation with its downtown-DC newspaper staff?

Kane, Akers, and Cillizza are all Roll Call alums. Photograph by Matthew Worden

No, according to top editors. But readers are seeing more stories in the newspaper under the bylines of writers from the staff at Washingtonpost.com.

Chris Cillizza, the first crossover writer, was hired by the Internet newsroom to write the Fix, a political blog. Now Cillizza sits in the DC newsroom, his stories show up in print, and he’s become the face of Post political reporting on TV.

Paul Kane came to Washingtonpost.com in January to cover politics; his stories about the downfall of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Senator Larry Craig got Kane on the Post’s front page.

Mary Ann Akers arrived as a blogger to write the Sleuth, her inside take on congressional foibles. Now you can read her byline in boldface at the top of the Post’s In the Loop page, with Kane’s, for a weekly dispatch on Hill news and gossip.

“It’s not a de facto merger,” says Washingtonpost.com editor Jim Brady. “We’re just working together in a more public way.”

But it’s a way for employees to climb the ladder of success at the Post. The path to fame, fortune, and the national desk used to go from small newspapers to Post Metro to the big time; now it’s from Roll Call to the dot-com to the front page. Cillizza, Kane, and Akers came to the Post from the Capitol Hill newspaper.

Akers made her mark writing Roll Call’s gossip column, Heard on the Hill. For the Post she has notched a few scoops: how Dan Moldea and Larry Flynt outed Senator David Vitter’s calls to the “DC madam”; that Republicans wonder whether Fred Thompson’s wife, Jeri,will be an asset or trouble on the presidential trail; how C-Span unearthed and broadcast Dick Cheney’s “quagmire” tape from 13 years ago when the Vice President said attacking Iraq would be a mistake.

Her reporting of the $64,000 tab for Congressman Charlie Rangel’s official portrait got her in print.

“When I write for the paper,” says Akers, “I wind up getting calls and e-mails from readers who don’t necessarily read many blogs. The Web is the future, but there’s a core group of loyal newspaper readers. Some of them have started reading my blog because they’ve seen my byline in the paper.”

“Win-win situation,” she says.

Sounds like a merger to us.

This article can be found in the October 2007 issue of Washingtonian Magazine.

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