Bennett Heads for Post’s Ninth Floor—Its New Gulag?

By: Harry Jaffe

Postologists will remember that the newspaper’s gulag of the 1990s was the Outlook section. A top editor axed in a power struggle or ejected from Style or National or Financial often was exiled to the Sunday section on big thoughts. Second choice for a soft landing was a fellowship, preferably at Harvard.

Under the latest regime, heads chopped off in the newsroom often take the elevator from the fifth floor up to the ninth-floor executive suite. There, Post Company chair Don Graham finds them an job appropriate to their status.

Susan Glasser, whose management of the National staff was considered disastrous by many, was removed last year as associate managing editor. Graham scooped her up and gave her an office on his ninth floor and a job working on “projects.” Shortly thereafter, Graham bought Foreign Policy Magazine and installed Glasser as executive editor.

Cut to this morning’s pair of Post memos about the exit of Phil Bennett. As managing editor for three years under departed executive editor Len Downie, Bennett made a run for his job. When new publisher Katharine Weymouth passed Bennett over for Marcus Brauchli, Bennett’s days were numbered.

In today’s farewell note to staff, Bennett thanked Graham and wrote:
“Next week, I’ll move to the 9th floor to work for Don on a project relating to the future of the news business. I will be writing, thinking about what’s next—and pulling for you.”

Postologists were left with two questions:
• Will Don Graham buy a magazine for Bennett?
• Why did Graham not reward Jim Brady, departing editor of washingtonpost.com? No doubt Brady is deserving of some Post kindness; in guiding the newspaper’s web site since 2004, he has helped make it one of the world’s top online newspapers. The Post Company profile says: “Jim Brady has led washingtonpost.com to numerous awards and accolades since being named executive editor of the site in November 2004.”

But Brady was neither an acolyte of the Grahams nor a favorite of Marcus Brauchli. A bit of a renegade, with the soul of a digital journalist, he will go free of the Post.

P.S. Other news today is that longtime Post reporter and editor Michael Abramowitz is leaving after 23 years at the daily. He has been covering the Bush White House and was slated to cover Hillary Clinton’s State Department, but he has taken a job with the Holocaust Museum.

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