Former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. will be in charge of The Washington Post’s decision desk Tuesday night. An email from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication says Downie is:
running the election night decision desk in the Post newsroom tonight. He will call the presidential and Senate elections in approximately 20 key states that will decide the presidency and control of the Senate. He will work with the Post’s polling unit, political reporters and social media team as well as student volunteers, including two Cronkite students.
Downie also ran the decision desk in 2008, at current Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli’s request, said Post spokesperson Kris Coratti.
After Downie stepped down as executive editor in 2008, he became a vice president at large for the Washington Post Company, took a teaching job at ASU and wrote a novel about a reporter who trips over “the dark world of politics and money in Washington” while reporting for a newspaper called the Washington Capital.
Also at Brauchli’s request, Downie accompanied the Post’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., “as a Washington Post visitor and a Cronkite School adviser to the Cronkite News Service reporters covering the convention for Arizona clients of CNS,” Downie told Poynter in an email at the time.
Downie’s reappearance in an important editorial role, even for one night, will probably not do much to tamp down rumors that Brauchli is leaving the paper, but Coratti says it’s simply because election night is an “all hands on deck situation.”
Friends of Post staffers shouldn’t head over, thinking they’re going to get a rare glimpse of a previous generation of Washington Post editorial management at work: A memo sent out Oct. 18 by Deputy Managing Editor Shirley Carswell asked staffers to not “bring family or friends into the newsroom to watch the excitement. We’ll have enough on our hands getting all the news published without having to worry about tripping over visitors.”
Brauchli is also in the newsroom tonight, Coratti says.