The Washington Post’s arts and living section, Style, is looking for a blogger, an internal announcement reads. Whoever lands this position may want to invest in a serious coffee machine:
This blogger should be able to identify trends, cutting through the noise of the Internet to bring context and perspective to a Washington audience. We envision at least a dozen pieces of content per day, with the knowledge that one great sentence can equal one great post.
The job “will require early mornings to get a start on the day’s news and may sometimes require late nights covering awards shows and other live events,” the listing says. In a follow-up email, Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron explained that “there will be a lead blogger, but that blogger will not be responsible for all posts. The entire Style staff and others in our newsroom, will write posts. Some posts can be as short as a sentence or as simple as a link.”
Elizabeth Flock resigned from her blogging position at the Post last year after failing to credit another news outlet in an aggregated piece. Patrick Pexton, then the paper’s ombudsman, warned against the high-volume, low-oversight blogging she and other Post bloggers told him she was required to do. Post bloggers, he wrote, “said that they felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing.”
Guidelines for aggregating stories are almost nonexistent, they said. And they believe that, even if they do a good job, there is no path forward. Will they one day graduate to a beat, covering a crime scene, a city council or a school board? They didn’t know. So some left; others are thinking of quitting.
Here’s the memo for the job:
Style is looking for a tenacious blogger to spearhead a new digital mission. This writer will be responsible for leading an of-the-moment conversation about the day’s culture news and helping create a dynamic digital home for Style.
The ideal candidate would have experience reporting, writing and producing online content as well as a proven fluency in social media. We need someone with the confidence to work independently, but also a team player who can collaborate with our critics, columnists and reporters.
This blogger should be able to identify trends, cutting through the noise of the Internet to bring context and perspective to a Washington audience. We envision at least a dozen pieces of content per day, with the knowledge that one great sentence can equal one great post. This assignment requires not only the ability to aggregate content, but the skill to execute the types of stories that others will aggregate and share. We are looking for someone who will not just be part of the cultural conversation, but lead it.
This is a job that will require early mornings to get a start on the day’s news and may sometimes require late nights covering awards shows and other live events. For example, a recent Monday may have seen posts on topics including: Justin Timberlake’s rumored second album of the year; the History Channel’s controversial depiction of Satan as someone who looks like President Obama; reactions to media coverage of the Steubenville rape trial verdict; the recovery of a long-lost Rembrandt self-portrait; the new Beyonce song; a follow-up to that day’s “The bucks start here” feature in the Style section; reflections on the season finale of “Girls”; and more.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated one of the names of the memo writers. It has also been updated to clarify the responsibilities required of the Style blogger.