Why did publisher Katharine Weymouth go outside the Washington Post and tap Marcus Brauchli to replace veteran executive editor Len Downie?
One reason: No one from inside the Post establishment could stomach the changes Brauchli will have to make.
“He will have to blow up the structure,” says a Post reporter who took the recent buyout. “It’s a culture that doesn’t want to change.”
Says a former editor: “The assistant managing editors consider themselves barons with their own castles. He will have to knock those walls down.”
And build bridges across the Potomac to the Post’s digital newsroom in Arlington.
Brauchli takes over in September. Here are five things he might do to succeed:
1. Totally merge the ink and digital publications. Break down all the walls and house both staffs under one roof.
2. Have all reporters carry a video camera. Post staffers laughed when then–managing editor Steve Coll predicted this; they jokingly called the concept “hatcam.” Train all reporters to shoot video and broadcast from the scene.
3. Pump up the Food and Health sections—which Downie wanted to close down—into vibrant purveyors of useful news. Put some on the front page and some on the home page.
4. Support the Post’s best investigative reporters, such as Dana Priest and Sari Horwitz, but push every beat reporter to seek surprising local stories beyond politics and crime.
5. Continue to question authority. You wrote Weymouth that you “got into journalism in large part because of the Post and Watergate.”
How do you think Brauchli can save the Post? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and they may get published in an upcoming issue of the Washingtonian.