Editor and Publisher has a telling piece on the pointless divisions between old guard White House reporters for the Washinton Post and new school WP bloggers.
A debate is raging at The Washington Post, pitting the newspaper’s traditional print staff (and newly appointed ombudsman) against a representative of a new generation of journalists who work for the company’s Web site.
Newly appointed Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell kicked off the debate Sunday in a column titled “The Two Washington Posts.” In it, Howell looked to distinguish between the Washington Post’s print newspaper, with its weekday circulation of 671,322, and washingtonpost.com, with its 8 million unique visitors a month. In the process, Howell took particular aim at washingtonpost.com’s popular “White House Briefing” columnist Dan Froomkin, who tracks the key stories on the Bush administration and links to them, often adding pointed commentary and context.
“Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s ‘White House Briefing,’ which is highly opinionated and liberal,” Howell declared flatly. “They’re afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.”
Before ending her column with a recommendation that “the Web site should remove the ‘White House Briefing’ label from Froomkin’s column,” Howell quoted John Harris, a national political editor at the print Post, who complained that the title of Froomkin’s column “invites confusion” and “dilutes our only asset — our credibility” as objective news reporters.
From Dan Froomkin’s own fingers:
Regular readers know that my column is first and foremost a daily anthology of works by other journalists and bloggers. When my voice emerges, it is often to provide context for those writings and spot emerging themes. Sometimes I do some original reporting, and sometimes I share my insights. The omnipresent links make it easy for readers to assess my credibility.
There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny.
While it’s easy to understand the need to drag the old guard forward inch by inch, what’s odd about this development is the fact that The Post is light years ahead of most newspapers when it comes to adapting their product to the tastes and needs of today’s news consumer.
In related news, USA TODAY tore down the walls between its print newsroom and its online newsroom.