“Profitable” Washington Post adding five dozen journalists

Editor’s note: Don’t let our mediocre local newspaper, The Union, or its hack columnists such as “Bored Georgeman,” or ignorant and provincial subscribers such as “native” Todd Juvinal drag you down. This metro newspaper expansion is wonderful news and a credit to management, including owner Jeff Bezos! The author of this article, Ken Doctor, is a longtime journalism friend, and he’s captured this journalism success story perfectly. There is real hope for serious journalism, not in our community but elsewhere.

“Twenty-sixteen was the year The Washington Post came of age — again. In its audience growth, in the ambitiousness of its journalism, in its impact on the American conversation, the Post became the U.S.’s fourth national newspaper company, joining The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today,” as Politoco is reporting.

“Now, come 2017, the Post seems to be doing something unique in daily journalism: It is adding journalists early in the year.

“’We’re adding dozens of journalists,’ Fred Ryan, the Post’s publisher and CEO, told me late last week. Ryan, in a recent memo, said the Post was ‘profitable and growing.’

“’We looked at what succeeded for us in 2016 and made investments there,’ he says. Ryan doesn’t want to specify the exact number of hires or how they will be apportioned. ‘We’re still rolling this out internally.’

“Still, according to sources, we can figure that the Post newsroom will grow by more than 60 jobs — or 8 percent — an astounding number in this day and age. Such contrarian additions, of course, come at a time when newsroom staff reductions are the rule across daily journalism.

“The Post newsroom will number more than 750, third among the national newspaper-based press and moving it closer to the Times, with which it increasingly competes for high-end talent. The Times complement stands at about 1,307, the company says. USA Today’s newsroom stands at about 450, while the Journal, after its recent buyouts, tells me it employs 1,500.

“’We’ll make investments in mobile video,’ says Ryan, citing Chief Revenue Officer Jed Hartman’s success and better monetizing advertising on the smartphone. ‘We believe that a less-than-15-second pre-roll can be very effective,” he says, noting that new mobile ad forms are still a work in progress, but well sought by advertisers.

“Then, there’s the addition of a ‘rapid-response’ investigative team of about a half dozen, which will work alongside the Post’s existing investigative team of more than a dozen. Clearly, given the pace of news, the goal here is to produce more stories of depth, and data, in time spans of days or short weeks, as well as the ones that take months.

“Further, the Post will expand its breaking news team, which has driven lots of traffic, on-site and on other platforms, and its proliferating newsletter operation.

“Budgeting for the new positions begins Jan. 1, with much of the hiring done by the first quarter of the year.

“What’s the strategy behind the new hires?

“It’s twofold, both business and editorial, fitting to the way that Jeff Bezos has reordered the Post business since buying it three years ago.”

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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