Raju Narisetti has fled the Washington Post. Hand-picked by Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli in 2009 to run the Post’s digital side, Narisetti has returned to the Wall Street Journal, where he first met Brauchli. The choice was his. He will say he’s leaving for a better opportunity, but his decision may also signal displeasure with the Post.
Brauchli’s memo announcing Narisetti’s departure was both congratulatory and adoring, giving his sidekick credit for increasing washingtonpost.com’s traffic. Narisetti was a mystery man to Post staffers when he arrived three years ago, and to most he remained a stranger. Brauchli thanked Narisetti for redesigning the Post’s print and digital editions, but many readers of both find them impenetrable and confusing.
The larger question raised by Narisetti’s departure is what effect it might have on the Post’s top editorial team. Narisetti shared the managing editor title with Liz Spayd. Will she take over his digital duties? Will Executive Director of Digital News* Katharine Zaleski move up? Will Marcus Brauchli leave next? Stay tuned.
Text of the memo follows.
I am sorry to announce that Raju Narisetti is resigning as Managing Editor of The Washington Post, effective Feb. 1. He will be moving to New York to re-join the Wall Street Journal.
Raju has accomplished much in the three years since he came to the Post from Mint, a business newspaper and website he founded in India. He was closely involved in the redesign of our print edition in 2009; oversaw the selection and installation of Methode, the content-management system we use to edit and produce our news products; and has taken a leading role in the integration of our print and digital staffs and operations.
But that understates dramatically his role. Raju has helped to build an extravagantly talented digital team and provided much of the vision and strategy that enabled The Post to become one of the most innovative and successful digital-news operations anywhere.
The evidence is in the numbers: The Post’s online traffic has risen sharply in the last two years, with our page views in December up 45% from a year earlier, the number of visitors to our site up 14%, and the time each visitor spends on our site more than double what it was a year ago (according to comScore) – making 2011 our best year ever. We are a leader in the use of social media for delivering news and drawing readers to our site. Our video traffic has tripled in the last two years and our mobile visits doubled in the last year.
One of Raju’s signal successes, though, has been that these accomplishments aren’t his alone, but are the result of the inspiration and genius of many people. He has ensured we have the best engagement and social-media experts, the best SEO team, the best digital designers, and a newsroom capable of adapting rapidly to the fast-changing habits of our fast-growing audience. We have, in short, the people, the technology, the journalism, the metabolism and the creative spirit to build on our successes. And we will ensure that we remain focused; those people who have been reporting to Raju will for now report to me.
We will miss Raju greatly, and nobody will miss him more than I, having worked with him over a dozen years, first at the Journal and more recently here.
Please join me in wishing him every success and thanking him for his many invaluable contributions to The Post.
* This piece originally referred to Zaleski as the manager of social media at the Post. We regret any confusion.