The Washington Post Explained

Type:Daily newspaper
Format:Broadsheet
Foundation:1877
Owners:Washington Post Company
Headquarters:1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.,
United States
Editor:Marcus Brauchli
Publisher:Katharine Weymouth
Issn:0190-8286
Website:washingtonpost.com
Circulation:673,180 Daily
890,163 Sunday[1]

The Washington Post is the newspaper with the largest circulation in Washington, D.C., United States and is the city's oldest paper, founded in 1877. It has a particular emphasis on national politics and international affairs, and being a newspaper of record. Even so, the Washington Post has always been defined as a local paper and does not print any editions for the outside region beyond that of the D.C., Maryland, or Virginia editions for daily circulation. The Washington Post is known for its liberal stance on political and social issues.

The newspaper is published as a broadsheet, with photographs printed both in color as well as in black and white. Weekday printings include the main section, containing the first page, national, international news, politics, and editorials and opinions, followed by the sections on local news (Metro), sports, business, style (feature writing on pop culture, politics, fine and performing arts, film, fashion, and gossip), and classifieds. The Sunday edition includes the weekday sections as well as several weekly sections: Outlook (opinion and editorials), Style & Arts, Sunday Source, Travel, Bookworld, Comics, TV Week, and the Washington Post Magazine. Beyond the newspaper, the Washington Post under its parent company of The Washington Post Company is involved with the Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive and Washingtonpost.com.

In 1889, John Phillip Sousa composed on behalf of the newspaper "The Washington Post March", which later became one of the most famous march music pieces. Perhaps the most notable incident in the Posts history was when, in the early 1970s, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein began the media's investigation of Watergate. This contributed greatly to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In later years, its investigative reporting has led to increased review of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Since Leonard Downie, Jr. was named executive editor in 1991, the Post has won 25 Pulitzer Prizes, more than half of the paper's total collection of 47 Pulitzers awarded. This includes six separate Pulitzers given in 2008, the second-highest record of Pulitzers ever given to a single newspaper in one year.[2] The Post has also received 18 Nieman Fellowships, and 368 White House News Photographers Association awards, among others.

General overview

The Post is generally regarded among the leading daily American newspapers, along with The New York Times, which is known for its general reporting and international coverage, and The Wall Street Journal, which is known for its financial reporting. The Post has distinguished itself through its political reporting on the workings of the White House, Congress, and other aspects of the U.S. government.

Unlike the Times and the Journal, however, it does not print a daily national edition for distribution away from the East Coast. However, a "National Weekly Edition" combines stories from a week of Post editions. The majority of its newsprint readership is in the District of Columbia, as well as its suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.[3]

, its average weekday circulation was 699,130 and its Sunday circulation was 929,921, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, making it the seventh largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post and the New York Daily News. While its circulation (like that of almost all newspapers) has been slipping, it has one of the highest market-penetration rates of any metropolitan news daily.

The paper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins and in 1880 added a Sunday edition, thus becoming the city's first newspaper to publish seven days a week. In 1889, Hutchins sold the paper to Frank Hatton, a former Postmaster General, and Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio. To promote the paper, the new owners requested the leader of the Marine Band, John Philip Sousa, to compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. Sousa composed The Washington Post, which remains one of his best-known works. In 1899, during the Spanish–American War, the Post printed Clifford K. Berryman's classic illustration Remember the Maine. Wilkins acquired Hatton's share of the paper in 1894 at Hatton's death. After Wilkins' death in 1903, his sons John and Robert ran the Post for two years before selling it in 1905 to Washington McLean and his son John Roll McLean, owners of the Cincinnati Enquirer. When John died in 1916, he put the paper in trust, having little faith that his playboy son Edward "Ned" McLean could manage his inheritance. Ned went to court and broke the trust, but, under his management, the paper slumped toward ruin. It was purchased in a bankruptcy auction in 1933 by a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors, Eugene Meyer, who restored the paper's health and reputation. In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law Philip Graham.

In 1954, the Post consolidated its position by acquiring and merging with its last morning rival, the Washington Times-Herald. (The combined paper would officially be named The Washington Post and Times-Herald until 1973, although the Times-Herald portion of the masthead became less and less prominent after the 1950s.) The merger left the Post with two remaining local competitors, the afternoon Washington Star (Evening Star) and The Washington Daily News, which merged in 1972 and folded in 1981. The Washington Times, established in 1982, has been a local rival with a circulation about one-seventh that of the Post.[4]

After Graham's suicide in 1963, control of the Washington Post Company passed to Katharine Graham, his wife and Meyer's daughter. No woman before had ever run a nationally prominent newspaper in the United States. She described her own anxiety and lack of confidence based on her gender in her autobiography, and she did not assign duties to her daughter at the paper as she did to her son. She served as publisher from 1969 to 1979 and headed the Washington Post Company into the early 1990s as chairman of the board and CEO. After 1993, she retained a position as chairman of the executive committee until her death in 2001.

Her tenure is credited with seeing the Post rise in national stature through effective investigative reporting, most notably to ensure that The New York Times did not surpass its Washington reporting of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate scandal. Executive editor Ben Bradlee put the paper's reputation and resources behind reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who, in a long series of articles, chipped away at the story behind the 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington. The Post's dogged coverage of the story, the outcome of which ultimately played a major role in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, won the paper a Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

In 1972, the "Book World" section was introduced.[5]

In 1980, the Post published a dramatic story called "Jimmy's World",[6] describing the life of an eight-year-old heroin addict in Washington, for which reporter Janet Cooke won acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize. Subsequent investigation, however, revealed the story to be a fabrication. The Pulitzer Prize was returned.

Donald Graham, Katharine's son, succeeded her as publisher in 1979 and in the early 1990s became chief executive officer and chairman of the board, as well. He was succeeded in 2000 as publisher and CEO by Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., with Graham remaining as chairman. In February 2008, Jones was named chairman of the newspaper, and Katharine Weymouth became publisher of The Washington Post and chief executive officer of Washington Post Media, a new unit that includes The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com.

Like The New York Times, the Post was slow in moving to color photographs and features. On January 28, 1999, its first color front-page photograph appeared. After that, color slowly integrated itself into other photographs and advertising throughout the paper.

In 1996, the newspaper established a web site, http://www.washingtonpost.com/. The paper is part of The Washington Post Company, a diversified education and media company that also owns educational services provider Kaplan, Inc., Post-Newsweek Stations, Cable One, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, Newsweek magazine, the online magazine Slate, The Gazette and Southern Maryland Newspapers, The Herald (Everett, WA) and CourseAdvisor.

The paper runs its own syndication service for its columnists and cartoonists, The Washington Post Writers Group.

The Post has its main office at 1150 15th St, N.W., and the newspaper has the exclusive zip code 20071.

On July 7, 2008, it was announced that former Wall Street Journal editor Marcus Brauchli would become the paper's top editor, succeeding Leonard Downie, Jr. in September.[7]

On January 29, 2009, the Post announced it was dropping Book World as a separate Sunday section and moving its coverage to the Outlook and Style sections. Rachel Hartigan Shea, deputy editor, was named the new Book World editor, replacing Marie Arana who stepped down on December 31, 2008 after accepting an early retirement offer earlier that year. [8]

Political stance

Beginning with Richard Nixon,[9] conservatives have often cited the Post, along with The New York Times, as exemplars of "liberal media bias". As Katharine Graham (the former publisher of the Post) noted in her memoirs Personal History, the paper long had a policy of not making endorsements for presidential candidates. However, since at least 2000, The Washington Post has endorsed presidential candidates.[10] It also has endorsed Republican politicians, such as Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.[11] In 2006, it repeated its historic endorsements of every Republican incumbent for Congress in Northern Virginia.[12] There have also been times when the Post has specifically chosen not to endorse any candidate, such as in 1988 when it refused to endorse then Governor Michael Dukakis or then Vice President George H.W. Bush.[13] On October 17, 2008, the Post endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States.[14]

Its editorial positions have taken primarily conservative stances: it has steadfastly supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, warmed to President George W. Bush's proposal to partially privatize Social Security, opposed a deadline for U.S. withdrawal from the Iraq War, and advocated free trade agreements, including CAFTA.

In "Buying the War" on PBS, Bill Moyers noted 27 editorials supporting George W. Bush's ambitions to invade Iraq. National security correspondent Walter Pincus reported that he had been ordered to cease his reports that were critical of Republican administrations.[15]

In 1992, the PBS investigative news program Frontline suggested that the Post had moved to the right in response to its smaller, more conservative rival The Washington Times. The program quoted Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative activist organization the Moral Majority, as saying "The Washington Post became very arrogant and they just decided that they would determine what was news and what wasn't news and they wouldn't cover a lot of things that went on. And The Washington Times has forced the Post to cover a lot of things that they wouldn't cover if the Times wasn't in existence."[16] In 2008, Thomas F. Roeser of the Chicago Daily Observer also mentioned competition from the Washington Times as a factor moving the Post to the right.[17]

On March 26, 2007, Chris Matthews said on his television program, "Well, The Washington Post is not the liberal newspaper it was, Congressman, let me tell you. I have been reading it for years and it is a neocon newspaper".[18] In November 2007, the Washington Post was criticized by independent journalist Robert Parry for reporting on anti-Obama chain e-mails without sufficiently emphasizing to its readers the false nature of the anonymous claims.[19] It has regularly published an ideological mixture of op-ed columnists, some of them on the left (including E.J. Dionne, Richard Cohen, and Eugene Robinson), and some on the right (including George Will, Michael Gerson, and Charles Krauthammer).

In a November 19, 2008 column, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell stated: "I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo".[20] Responding to criticism of the newspaper's coverage during the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election, Howell wrote: "The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It's not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected".[20]

Ombudsmen

In 1970, the Post became one of the first newspapers in the United States to establish a position of "ombudsman", or readers' representative, assigned to address reader complaints about Post news coverage and to monitor the newspaper's adherence to its own standards. Ever since, the ombudsman's commentary has been a frequent feature of the Post editorial page.

Notable contributors (past and present)

Executive officers and editors (past and present)

Honors and achievements

See main article: List of prizes won by The Washington Post.

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: New FAS-FAX: Steep Decline at 'NYT' While 'WSJ' Gains. Saba. Jennifer. 2008-04-28. Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  2. News: Howard. Kurtz. The Post Wins 6 Pulitzer Prizes. Washington Post. 2008-04-08. 2008-08-08.
  3. Web site: The Washington Post's Circulation and Reach. Washington Post Media. 2009-03-02.
  4. http://www.washtimes.com/business/20050518-120247-7729r.htm Washington Times - Times circulation climbs to buck trend
  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/25thann/aranaward.htm Book World 25th Anniversary: Views From Publisher's Row
  6. http://www.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/markport/lit/litjour/spg2002/cooke.htm Washington Post Archives: Article
  7. News: Washington Post Names Marcus Brauchli Executive Editor. Kurtz. Howard. 2008-7-7. Washington Post. 2008-07-07.
  8. News: Post to End Stand-Alone Book Section. Kurtz. Howard. 2009-1-29. Washington Post. 2009-01-29.
  9. http://www.amconmag.com/2005_02_14/buchanan.html Richard Nixon’s Revenge
  10. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57584-2004Oct23.html Kerry for President (washingtonpost.com)
  11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/25/AR2006102501668.html Wrong Choice for Governor - washingtonpost.com
  12. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/29/AR2006102900552.html For Congress in Virginia - washingtonpost.com
  13. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.htmlres=940DE2DF1F3CF931A35752C1A96E948260
  14. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/16/AR2008101603436.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
  15. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003574260 null
  16. http://www.mediachannel.org/originals/moontranscript.shtml MediaChannel.org - Frontline: Reverend Moon
  17. http://cdobs.com/archive/our-columns/how-the-liberal-media-stonewalled-the-edwards-story,1551 How the Liberal Media Stonewalled the Edwards
  18. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17798805 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 23 - Hardball with Chris Matthews - MSNBC.com
  19. http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/112907.html WPost Buys into Anti-Obama Bigotry
  20. Howell, Deborah: "Remedying the Bias Perception", WashingtonPost.com, November 19, 2008