Marcus Brauchli steps down as Washington Post executive editor, Marty Baron to take over

Washington Post | Boston Globe | Poynter
After months of speculation, Marcus Brauchli is stepping down as executive editor of The Washington Post. Boston Globe Editor Marty Baron, 58, will be the new editor as of January 2.

Managing Editor Liz Spayd was scheduled to leave by the end of the year, but will stay through January 31 to assist in the transition between editors.

Brauchli will take a position as a “vice president of The Washington Post Company with responsibility for evaluating new media opportunities,” the Post’s Paul Farhi reports.

Brauchli was hired at the Post in 2008 after he was forced out of the top job at The Wall Street Journal when Rupert Murdoch bought the paper.

Brauchli, 51, oversaw a difficult period at the newspaper, as a series of buyouts tried to bring the staffing headcount in line with plunging advertising revenues. He oversaw the integration of the Post’s online and print newsrooms, as well as a push into digital operations, including personalization, aggregation and social advertising initiatives.

But there were persistent reports that Brauchli and Weymouth clashed over how to cut the budget. Earlier this year, the Post offered its fifth buyout since 2004.

A note posted to Facebook (reproduced in full below) by The Washington Post’s Newspaper Guild reads:

Several members were struck by Publisher Katharine Weymouth’s address, which noted Baron’s ability to lead the Globe with “fewer resources.” Members are worried about the upheaval that this change in leadership could cause. Now, more than ever, it is important to band together and to recruit more members to join the Guild.

In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, I asked Weymouth if she foresaw the Post’s newsroom being smaller a year from now. “I certainly hope not,” she said. “I’m hiring Marty for his journalism … that’s what he’s coming here for.”

There were also reports that Weymouth and Brauchli disagreed about the direction of the paper. As Poynter previously reported, when Weymouth laid out her vision for the paper in 2008, she called for it to be “for and about Washington.” But in a Vanity Fair profile of the paper, Sarah Ellison reported Weymouth had said, “One of our biggest problems is we have three people at the top of the paper, none of whom give a shit about Sports, Metro, or Style.”

This weekend, Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton called the paper’s local coverage “pretty thin.”

Baron had been a rumored replacement. On Sept. 5, 2012, he told Poynter, “I have not been in talks with The Washington Post.”

At an all-staff meeting Tuesday morning to announce the changes, Post Company CEO Donald Graham praised Brauchli, according to tweets from staff:

When people in the back of the meeting said it was hard to hear Brauchli speaking, someone in attendance told Poynter, he joked, “Perhaps that’s intentional.” He praised staffers for Post enterprise series and other initiatives and said that divided government in Washington was “a gift” for the Post’s Web traffic. He said Washington’s occasionally not-struggling sports teams were “more about hope and change than Obama ever was.” The staff applauded him for a full minute.

“I wouldn’t be much of a journalist if I didn’t ask you why you’re doing this,” two people in attendance said reporter Valerie Strauss asked Weymouth, who praised the Boston Globe for doing good journalism with a smaller newsroom than it had grown used to, and praised Brauchli as a “great editor.”

Brauchli sent an email to staff about his resignation:

After nearly four and a half years as executive editor, I will step down at year’s end.

It has been a privilege and honor to work with you. What we’ve accomplished in this time, and what you accomplish every day, is a tribute to your ambition, discipline and personal dedication.

You’ve taken on the hardest targets in journalism—the self-entrenching national-security establishment, pervasive Congressional conflicts of interest, corrosive local corruption, economic and fiscal gridlock, a marathon national election, wars, revolutions and epidemics, distant tsunamis, nearby Frankenstorms, city-suffocating Snowmageddons, and even a Cinderella-minus-the-slipper baseball season—and set the highest standard every time.

We have reorganized, melded and streamlined our news operations, and emerged stronger than we started. That is not, as cynics would have it, simply a function of fewer people doing more, but of awareness that we are responsible for our destiny as never before. We are pioneers in blogs and social media, in managing and maximizing our engagement with readers, and in deploying new technologies and approaches. The Post’s newsroom is the source of our strength, of original and insightful news and commentary, of ideas that shape our world, of information that guides readers, and of stories and voices that connect them. The result is that today we have a bigger audience, more viewers and more users who follow and watch what we do, than ever.

The Post’s legacy looms large for us all. I have been especially fortunate to have had distinguished and wise predecessors who have been supportive of the adaptations we have made to the formidable foundations they set down.

But in the end it is you who deserve my gratitude. I especially want to recognize Liz Spayd, who has been a steady and wise partner, and the other senior editors I have worked with most closely. The galaxy of talent in this newsroom continues to etch its brilliance every day into the firmament of this city and this nation. May it long continue.

Thank you for letting me work among you.

Marcus

Baron, meanwhile, sent a memo and told the Boston Globe newsroom, where he has been editor since 2001.

And Weymouth sent a memo as well:

After more than four years as executive editor of The Washington Post, Marcus Brauchli will step down, effective December 31, to assume a new role as Vice President of The Washington Post Company, working closely with Don Graham to review and evaluate new media opportunities.

Marcus has contributed immeasurably in the more than four years he has been at the helm of this newsroom. Marcus was the first executive editor of The Post to assume leadership for both print and online operations. Under his leadership, we have become one newsroom publishing on multiple platforms. We have become known for our ability to create innovative digital products that allow our readers to engage in new ways with some of the best journalism in the world.

Under Marcus, The Post’s newsroom won four Pulitzer prizes and was a finalist for eight others, as well as an array of other awards including a George Polk, a Peabody, several Overseas Press Club awards and citations, and recognition from state press associations in Maryland and Virginia and international news-design organizations.

The acclaim came for a wide array of stories, including powerful accountability projects such as Top Secret America, which depicted the massive growth in the U.S. national-security establishment since Sept. 11; Capitol Assets, a project looking at the pervasive conflicts of interest in Congress; The Permanent War, an examination of how counterterrorism has created an infrastructure for engaging with enemies around the world; and a running investigation into corruption and mismanagement in the District of Columbia’s government.

Marcus also has put a strong emphasis on the expansion of The Post’s digital operation, creating teams that specialize in interactive journalism and in building audiences for The Post’s journalism. Today, its digital operations, including washingtonpost.com, mobile platforms and an expanded digital-video unit, are consistently recognized as among the most innovative mainstream news sites. Daily traffic has grown substantially and at a rate that exceeds most major competitors. Visits to the Post’s website on Election Day alone were a record and nearly double levels of 2008. At the same time, Marcus has filled our ranks with talented journalists and editors from outside while he also nurtured and promoted talent from within The Post.

Please join me in thanking Marcus for all that he has done for The Post and in congratulating him on his new role with the Company.

* * * * * *

I am pleased to announce today that Marty Baron will join us, effective January 2, 2013, as our new executive editor. Marty has served as editor of The Boston Globe since July 30, 2001. He previously held top editing positions at The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Miami Herald.

Under Marty’s leadership, the Globe won six Pulitzer prizes, including those for public service, explanatory journalism, national reporting, and criticism. The Globe received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for a Globe Spotlight Team investigation into the cover-up of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

In directing the Globe newsroom, Marty has overseen the editorial operations of Boston.com, which draws more than 6 million monthly unique visitors and ranks among the nation’s largest newspaper websites, and BostonGlobe.com, a subscription-based site that was launched in late 2011. The Globe this year won six national Edward R. Murrow Awards in the competition sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Association, and Boston.com won three EPPY awards in the competition sponsored by Editor & Publisher magazine.

In the past decade, the Globe’s news staff has collaborated to author four major, well reviewed books: “The Real Romney” (Harper Collins); “Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy” (Simon & Schuster); “Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church” (Little, Brown); and “John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best” (Public Affairs).

Prior to joining the Globe, Marty was executive editor of The Miami Herald. During his tenure, the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage in 2001 for its coverage of the raid to recover Elián González, the Cuban boy at the center of a fierce immigration and custody dispute.

Marty was named “Editor of the Year” by Editor & Publisher Magazine in April of 2001, and he was selected by the National Press Foundation as “Editor of the Year” in 2004. In 2012, he was awarded the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award by the New England First Amendment Coalition and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Marty began his journalism career at The Miami Herald in 1976, serving as a state reporter and later as a business writer.

He moved to The Los Angeles Times in 1979. He became business editor in 1983; assistant managing editor for page-one special reports (“Column One”), public opinion polling, and special projects in 1991; and in 1993 editor of the newspaper’s largest regional edition, in Orange County, which then had about 165 staffers.

Marty moved to The New York Times in 1996 and in 1997 became associate managing editor responsible for its nighttime news operations. He departed to assume the post of executive editor at The Miami Herald at the start of 2000.

Marty was raised in Tampa, Fla., and speaks fluent Spanish. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1976 with both BA and MBA degrees.

Please join me in welcoming Marty to The Post. Marty will be here Friday, November 16th to meet you.

Finally, we’ve asked our inimitable Managing Editor, Liz Spayd, to delay her departure until the end of January to help us through this transition.

The Newspaper Guild posted this note to Facebook:

The Washington Post’s Newspaper Guild is sorry to hear that Marcus Brauchli is stepping aside as executive editor and wish him well in his new assignment. Although we did not always agree with the direction the Post was taking, we came to respect Marcus’ leadership of one the nation’s finest news organizations.

We recognize the huge challenges Marcus has faced in uniting our digital and print operations and striving to maintain a world class news organization in a punishing economic climate. We have done some great work during Marcus’ tenure. We have been appreciative of his willingness to listen to the union’s point of view and we will miss his gracious style.

We look forward to working with the next editor, Marty Baron, editor of the Boston Globe. We hope he will be as open to working with the Guild to do the stellar work for which the Post has long been known.

At a time when every media outlet is searching for a sustainable path forward, we trust that the change in leadership will bring about a renewed commitment to collaborating with the folks who produce the newspaper and who remain concerned about the potential for deeper cuts in an already depleted newsroom.

Several members were struck by Publisher Katharine Weymouth’s address, which noted Baron’s ability to lead the Globe with “fewer resources.” Members are worried about the upheaval that this change in leadership could cause. Now, more than ever, it is important to band together and to recruit more members to join the Guild.

We hope Katharine and our incoming executive editor will sit down with staffers at their first available opportunity to discuss their vision for the future of this great news organization.

Press release

WASHINGTON—November 13, 2012—The Washington Post today announced that Marty Baron has been named executive editor of The Washington Post effective January 2, 2013.

“We are thrilled to have Marty Baron lead The Washington Post’s newsroom,” said Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Post. “He has a demonstrated record of producing the highest quality journalism, which matches the legacy and expectations of The Post.”

Baron comes to The Post from The Boston Globe, where he has served as editor since July 30, 2001. He previously held top editing positions at The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Miami Herald.

“The Washington Post has played a defining and inspirational role in American journalism, and today it continues to lead as our profession undergoes a dramatic, urgent, and exciting transformation,” said Baron. “I am honored to join the supremely talented and dedicated journalists at The Washington Post.”

Under Baron’s leadership, the Globe won six Pulitzer prizes, including those for public service, explanatory journalism, national reporting, and criticism. The Globe received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for a Globe Spotlight Team investigation into the cover-up of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

In directing the Globe newsroom, Baron has overseen the editorial operations of Boston.com, which draws more than 6 million monthly unique visitors and ranks among the nation’s largest newspaper websites; and BostonGlobe.com, a subscription-based site that was launched in late 2011. The Globe this year won six national Edward R. Murrow Awards in the competition sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Association, and Boston.com won three EPPY awards in the competition sponsored by Editor & Publisher magazine.

Prior to joining the Globe, Baron was executive editor of The Miami Herald. During his tenure, the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage in 2001 for its coverage of the raid to recover Elián González, the Cuban boy at the center of a fierce immigration and custody dispute.

Baron was named “Editor of the Year” by Editor & Publisher Magazine in April of 2001, and he was selected by the National Press Foundation as “Editor of the Year” in 2004. In 2012, he was awarded the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award by the New England First Amendment Coalition and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Baron succeeds Marcus Brauchli, who will step down, effective December 31, to assume a new role as Vice President of The Washington Post Company, working closely with chairman and CEO Don Graham to review and evaluate new media opportunities.

“Marcus has contributed immeasurably in the more than four years he has been at the helm of this newsroom,” Weymouth said. “Under his leadership, we have become one newsroom publishing on multiple platforms, traffic has grown substantially and we are consistently recognized as among the most innovative mainstream news sites.”

“I am enormously proud of what we have accomplished here, and honored to have worked among so many brilliant journalists,” Brauchli said. “There is no finer newsroom.”

Under Brauchli, The Post’s newsroom won four Pulitzer Prizes, and was a finalist for eight others. The Post also won an array of other awards including a George Polk, a Peabody, several Overseas Press Club awards and citations, and recognition from state press associations in Maryland and Virginia and international news-design organizations.

The acclaim came for a wide array of stories, including powerful accountability projects such as Top Secret America, which depicted the massive growth in the U.S. national-security establishment since Sept. 11; Capitol Assets, a project looking at the pervasive conflicts of interest in Congress; The Permanent War, an examination of how counterterrorism has created an infrastructure for engaging with enemies around the world; and a running investigation into corruption and mismanagement in the District of Columbia’s government.

Brauchli came to The Post from The Wall Street Journal, where he rose from foreign correspondent, to national editor, global editor and deputy managing editor before assuming the top news job of managing editor.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Marty Baron’s name.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Yes, thanks. A typo early on in the story, now fixed with a correction appended. –Julie Moos, Poynter Online

  • KNBerg

    Is it safe to assume you mean Marty Baron of the Boston Globe? (Versus Marty Barton, as the article currently states.)