Downie Looks Good in New Post Ratings

By: Harry Jaffe

Summer was a stormy season for Washington Post deciders. The Post’s leadership took heat for setting up off-the-record “salons” with reporters, to be paid for and attended by corporate sponsors. Merging Web and print newsrooms taxed all sides. Heading into the fall, how do Posties rate their leaders on a scale of 1 to 10?

Katharine Weymouth: 6. Good will toward the popular publisher slipped away a bit when she acknowledged signing off on the salons; her apologies rang hollow to some reporters and editors.

Marcus Brauchli: 4. Weymouth’s hand-picked editor took responsibility and lost cred for the salons; he also had to eat crow for allowing and then killing Mouthpiece Theater, a cheeky online video hosted by Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza. Slate’s Jack Shafer accused Brauchli of “spinelessness”; Posties criticize him for not showing up in the newsroom.

Raju Narisetti: 7. Brought in by Brauchli to run the Web side, Narisetti was seen as the hatchet man tasked with cutting staff, but staffers say he’s shown care for their pride and their product.

Liz Spayd: 5. Spayd is the keeper of the Post’s standards and culture—the only Post lifer among the top five. But she, too, rubber-stamped the salons and seems lost in the shuffle.

Len Downie: 9. The Post’s retired editor looks pretty good in the rearview mirror. True, he may have stayed too long and neglected the Style section and the Web site, but he protected his scribes and likely would have killed the salon idea.

This article first appeared in the September 2009 issue of Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.

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