Brauchli Brings Outsider's Viewpoint to Post at WaPo

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Newspapers are gradually filling their teams with new faces just as eager to compete with each other as with the new media making all their lives hell. The latest face in a new place came last week when Katharine Weymouth, herself a next-generation leader installed only last February, named Marcus Brauchli the next executive editor of the Washington Post.
Marcus Brauchli: Next-generation executive editor of the Washington Post.
Marcus Brauchli: Next-generation executive editor of the Washington Post. Credit: Stefanie Keenan Patrick McMullen

To get an idea of how epochal the change will be when Mr. Brauchli takes over on Sept. 8, consider that the last two people to hold the job, Ben Bradlee and Leonard Downie Jr., had reigned since 1968. Mr. Downie had held the post since 1991 -- which, if you're counting, was 11 years before Google News entered beta. The Post's paid daily circulation was also nearly 20% higher back then.

The circulation decline was no fault of Mr. Downie, whose tenure included 25 Pulitzers for the paper. But as he has said, the paper has a new publisher with new ideas and deserves an editor in the same mold. "I have done a lot here," Mr. Downie told Editor & Publisher. "I can't even imagine some of the things that will need to be done."

Ad Age, however, got some idea of what's coming when we sat down with Ms. Weymouth in June. After ticking off the usual qualifications the next editor would need, she added one she called specific to this moment in the industry. "To the extent that we need to effect change either in our structure or our head count, I think you need people who can do that effectively," she said, "without overly demoralizing the staff or hurting the product that we put out in print or online."

Mr. Brauchli himself is a refugee from The Wall Street Journal, where many changes are afoot under the new management of Rupert Murdoch. One such change saw Mr. Brauchli exit the top editorial post there after just one year, making room for a Murdoch lieutenant. Soon we'll see which restructured regime fares better in the new world newspapers face.
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