News & Politics

Flash: Front Page of Washington Newspaper Contains No News

NOTE: See a response from Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli below.


Today’s news is there is no news on the front page of today’s Washington Post. Not one of the six articles on  page A1 begins with a hard news lead that imparts real news to readers.
Welcome to the new age of daily newspapering, where the actual news of the day has migrated to the Internet or TV or radio or the inside pages of the paper.  Bye-bye to the old  “who-what-when-where-why.”
In its Friday, March 6, edition, the Post published a pair of lead articles about the travails of US corporations and plummeting stocks; no real news there. Above the fold, readers could find a soft news piece on the Obama White House feuding with Rush Limbaugh or a story about an initiative whereby the government would ask investors to help bail out failing banks.
Below the fold the paper offered a feature about a clean coal project revived by President Obama’s new stimulus bill. The one foreign piece covers the hunger crisis in North Korea. That’s a very old story.

Not one article concerning news or events in the Washington region.

The newsless Washington Post front page has the stamp of Marcus Brauchli. The new executive editor does not edit the daily paper, but he has the last word on what goes on the front page.
According to editors who actually put out the paper every day, Brauchli prefers fewer articles on the front page. He likes bigger photos. Rather than breaking news, the Post’s front page should cast a story into the future.
Editors say Brauchli wants the Post to publish “predictive analysis.”
Giving readers a different mix of articles on the front page is one way to experiment with the newspaper at a time of declining revenues and readership. The New York Times on March 6 also published a few soft news stories on its front page, but it did include one that would qualify as real news:
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a $410 billion omnibus spending measure on Thursday night, forcing Congressional Democrats to prepare a stopgap budget resolution to keep the federal government from shutting down.
That once was news.

UPDATE: Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of the Washington Post, responds to this Harry Jaffe column:

It's not news when auditors for the company that once was America's industrial giant express concern about whether it can survive? Or when the likelihood rises that the government might have to acquire what once was the country's largest bank? Or that the world's monetary authorities are scrambling to revive the global economy?The front page was thick with news. News isn't defined by a subject-verb-object lead sentence. We tell our readers what's happening, why it's happening, how it might affect them and what's likely to happen next.  Kimberly Kindy, David Cho and Blaine Harden did something much more difficult than simply reporting what other said or did. Their enterprise work told you what you won't learn from other sources, but what really matters. Your definition of news would favor news conferences and press releases.