Washington Post Dumbing Down

This rather startling news was buried at the bottom of a ridiculous story about complaints that a white guy was hired to be the Post’s number two editor over a black man and a woman:

Post Discusses Circulation, Diversity (WaPo)

The Post just wrapped up its annual self-evaluation meeting, an offsite event that includes top editors and executives from the paper’s business side. This year’s meeting focused on the paper’s declining circulation — now at 709,500 daily copies, down 10 percent over the past two years — and the results of an extensive readership survey taken last summer.

In an effort to win new readers, [Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.] said Post reporters will be required to write shorter stories. The paper’s design and copy editors will be given more authority to make room for more photographs and graphics.

The paper will undergo a redesign to make it easier for readers to find stories. It is considering filling the left-hand column of the front page with keys to stories elsewhere in the paper and other information readers say they want from the paper, which they often consider “too often too dull,” Downie said. “Newspapers should be fun and it should be fun to work at one,” Bennett said.

So, essentially, WaPo is going to become USA Today? The main advantage of a major paper is that it covers stories in depth. If WaPo is going to just have a few paragraphs and lots of pretty pictures and pie charts, what advantage does it have over, say, the AP wire feed?

Update (1022): Duncan “Atrios” Black also makes the USA Today comparison.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Why, the brand of course!

  2. pennywit says:

    I read both USA Today and the Post, but I do so for different reasons. I read USA Today for quick takes on the news. I read the Post for its in-depth pieces. It would be a pity if I couldn’t read the post any more.