Katharine Weymouth at Poynter in 2010: ‘You just keep plugging away’

In 2010, Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth (who announced Tuesday that she’s leaving the paper) appeared at the Poynter Institute for a discussion about the book “The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press.” Weymouth spoke with audience members and Karen Dunlap, then Poynter’s president, about her role and digital changes at the Post.

Here’s a link to C-Span’s coverage of the talk.

And here are five things Weymouth said during her visit to Poynter.

1. There’s no magic bullet for the news industry:

“It’s scary from the business perspective, how do you sustain quality journalism? But the demand for news and the ability to get news is greater than ever… People write about and talk a lot about the decline of circulation of newspapers and oh my God, what’s happening? We have a bigger audience than we have ever had … our challenge is to figure out how do you pay for it.”

“OK,” Dunlap said. “What’s the answer?”

“I was gonna ask you,” Weymouth replied.

2. On journalism, raising kids and rising to the top:

“You can move up the food chain, but you do make choices along the way. I’ve talked to some of our reporters who are foreign correspondents or covering the campaign. Those are hard jobs if you have small children…I don’t know how many women would be willing to make that choice… but it’s also doable, so I think if you want to do it, you just keep plugging away.”

3. “I am a print person by training and habit”:

“For me, actually, one of my favorite things to do, and it was Don’s and my grandmother’s, is to go to watch the presses run at night. The world is changing. I don’t know whether we’ll have printed newspapers in 10 years or whatever. But to feel the presses start to come and to watch them come off, it’s really amazing.”

4. Beware mobile:

“We in the news industry talk about young people, the ever-elusive young people, and how they only want to consume on the internet and online and whatever. I think our biggest competition is the Blackberry.”

5. Clickbait works:

“Some of the things that we’ve gotten away from and we’re working on a lot now is how do you write a headline? … Once we had a headline in the paper and I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it was Afghanistan, it was a really boring story. And then on the web, the same story was ‘Little Blue Pills’… and I clicked on it and it was a story about how the CIA were giving the Afghan tribal leaders Viagra instead of cash because that’s what they wanted to please all their wives, and I was like, now that is a great title.”

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