Desk Envy in New Washington Post Newsroom

By: Harry Jaffe

For months the Washington Post’s iconic fifth floor newsroom has been under renovation. Contractors cleared out the warren of desks filmed portrayed in All The President’s Men to make way for the merged print and digital newsroom.

Reporters have been working from home, from other floors, from closets. They are returning this week to their new newsroom—and they are not pleased.

“It’s a shrine to editors,” one writer told The Washingtonian.

The circular universal desk is spacious and surfaced with polished wood. Reporters estimate that two thirds of the floor is devoted to editors; they get the rest.

Reporters checking out their new home report that desks barely hold a notebook, phone, and a few files; cubicles are jammed together; they have no file cabinets or storage.

Then there are big flat screens hanging from the ceiling. Editors get a clear view of TV news, reporters see the dark gray rear panels.

“Seating the reporters appears to have been an afterthought,” another reporter says.

Scribes are sounding off to editors. One top editor, who every day has to worry about falling circulation and declining ad revenues, says dealing with all the desk envy is “agony.”   

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