Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marcus Brauchli Puts Happy Face on Closing of Washington Post Bureaus

Convinces No One But Himself That Coverage Will Be Undiminished

Not a big surprise, given the state of affairs in the newspaper business, but still regrettable, is word from The Washington Post that it will shutter its last three national bureaus. The remaining reporters in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York will get a chance to work back at the mother ship, but their assistants are out of a job.
You don't need one hand to count the number of papers with a sizable bureau presence outside of Washington. In fact, you can stop after The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. Everyone else has pretty much closed up shop and relied on those papers and the A.P. to do the dirty work.
We get it. It's the new paradigm. Unfortunately, Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli doesn't get it, or if he does, isn't letting on. He's quoted in the NY Times saying the Post's "commitment to national news of interest to our readers is undiminished."
All well and good. Only problem: the Post will be doing most of its committing the same way most of the 1,400 remaining papers do: using the A.P. Sure, they can parachute in when something big's going down, and no doubt they will. Then again, the Post's newspaper division lost $166.3 million in the first three quarters this year. So, maybe not.
But there's nothing quite like being there, especially in New York. Now the Post will have to figure out whether to send a reporter to a story outside of D.C. by reading about it somewhere else. At least the Post still has a dozen or so foreign bureaus.
For now.

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