Katharine Weymouth

Why did the CDC try to embargo Ebola news?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Why did the CDC place an embargo on Ebola news? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first case of Ebola in the U.S. Tuesday. (CDC) | The rollout didn’t follow the CDC’s schedule, though. As AP put it, “The CDC initially embargoed the announcement of the diagnosis until 4:30 p.m. CDT, but then lifted the embargo after several news organizations broke that restriction.” | NBC’s story, for instance, was first published at 4:52 p.m. ET. “Which means, by the way, unless NBC’s standards have changed dramatically recently, which I doubt, that someone at the CDC went on the record about this before the ‘embargo’ lifted,” Ivan Oransky writes. He also notes another problem with the press release: “When you put ‘For Immediate Release’ and ‘Embargoed’ on the same press release about @#$% Ebola, you get the blame for the broken embargo.” (Embargo Watch) | In 2007, Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg got a scoop based on info he got independently and other news orgs had agreed to embargo. (Slate)
  2. Gary Shelton leaves the Tampa Bay Times: The longtime sports columnist “has been the Times’ voice throughout Tampa Bay’s greatest Sports generation.” (Tampa Bay Times) | Peter Schorsch has other names of people who he says are taking buyouts at the newspaper, which Poynter owns. (SaintPetersBlog) | The newspaper announced a cut in staff pay and hinted that layoffs may follow a round of planned buyouts. (Poynter)
  3. Feds settle with Washington Times: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will reimburse the newspaper and former Times reporter Audrey Hudson for some of their legal costs after an agent from the Coast Guard Investigative Service seized her notes while searching her house for “registered firearms and a potato launcher supposedly belonging to Ms. Hudson’s husband.” (The Washington Times) | Alex Pappas wrote about the raid last year. (The Daily Caller)
  4. Graham era officially ends at Washington Post: Katharine Weymouth‘s last day as Post publisher was yesterday. (WP) | Her last masthead. (@jfdulac) | Welcome to work, Fred Ryan! Here’s an article in the publication you used to run that says Jeff Bezos has no discernible plan for the paper. Also, Jack Shafer calls you a “Washington spearchucker who will throw the spears Bezos hands him.” (Politico)
  5. Chinese censors can’t keep up with pro-democracy gestures online: But “Most analysts agree that China’s government will most likely succeed in keeping most of its citizens in the dark, and early signs suggest there will be little tolerance for those who defy the censors.” (NYT)
  6. St. Louis indie journalist’s car robbed after his arrest: When cops arrested Bassem Masri for traffic warrants, they didn’t lock his car. “[M]y clothes, my iPad, my equipment, everything got stolen,” Masri tells Ray Downs. He used the equipment to live-stream from Ferguson protests and is trying to raise money to replace his stuff. (Riverfront Times)
  7. Back when racism was OK in sportswriting: Richard Horgan digs up a lede from a 1954 Daily News World Series gamer by Dick Young about a “Chinese homer.” Ugh: “Ming Toy Rhodes, sometimes called Dusty by his Occidental friends, was the honorable person who, as pinch hitter, delivered a miserable bundle of wet wash to the first row in right field in Polo Grounds some 258 1/2 feet down the block from the laundry.” (FishbowlNY)
  8. Does freelancers’ insurance have a place in a post-Obamacare world?: Sarah Laskow looks at how New York’s Freelancers Union has evolved, from a source of health insurance, to its own insurance company, to the proprietor of clinics. (Capital)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: Berlin’s Die Tageszeitung fronts a poignant illustration about the Hong Kong protests. (Courtesy the Newseum.)


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Tamar Adler is now a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. Previously, she was an editor at Harper’s. (The New York Times) | Joanna Coles is now editorial director of Seventeen magazine. She is editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan. (AdWeek) | Kris Van Cleave is now a correspondent for CBS Newspath. Previously, he was a reporter and anchor at WJLA. (CBS News) | Chris Cristi is now an evening helicopter reporter at KNBC in Los Angeles. Previously, he was a freelance helicopter reporter for KCB. (TV Spy) | Nerina Rammairone is now deputy editor at TV Guide Magazine. Previously, she was a senior editor there. (Mediabistro) | Michael Fabiano will be director of local broadcast markets for The Associated Press. Previously, he was chief operating officer at Locate Real Estate. (Associated Press) | Job of the day: Gawker is hiring a “Growth Hacker.” Get your résumés in! (Gawker) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more


Timeline of Katharine Weymouth and The Washington Post

The Graham family connection to The Washington Post began on June 1, 1933 when Eugene Meyer, the great-grandfather of Katharine Weymouth, bought the paper at a bankruptcy sale for $825,000.

We have compiled this short timeline about Weymouth and The Post as a reminder of the most interesting chapters in the history of the Graham dynasty’s relationship with its former paper.

May 1966
Katharine Weymouth is born to Lally and Yann Weymouth. She grows up in New York City. Her mother is the eldest of four children of Katharine and Philip Graham.

Benjamin Bradlee is named executive editor of The Post.

June 15, 1971
The Washington Post Company goes public with the sale of common stock.

June 18, 1971
The newspaper starts publishing the Pentagon Papers.

June 1972
The Post begins to report on Watergate.

October 1972
The new Washington Post building at 1150 15th Street, N.W. is dedicated.

Donald Graham succeeds his mother, Katharine Graham, as the publisher of The Post.

Katharine Weymouth graduates from Harvard College with a BA in literature.

Weymouth earns a JD from Stanford Law School.

She begins practicing law at Williams & Connolly in Washington, DC.

Weymouth joins The Post as assistant counsel.

June 1996
The newspaper’s website, Washingtonpost.com, is started.

February 1997
Katharine Graham gives an interview about her book “Personal History,” which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize the following year:

Weymouth becomes associate counsel for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI).

Weymouth serves as The Post’s advertising department’s liaison between the newspaper and WPNI.

Weymouth becomes director of the advertising department’s jobs unit.

April 2004
Weymouth is named director of advertising sales.

January 2005
Weymouth becomes The Post’s vice president of advertising.

February 2008
Weymouth is named CEO and publisher of The Post and chief executive of Washington Post Media.

July 2008
The Post announces Marcus Brauchli will succeed Leonard Downie, Jr. as executive editor.

July 2009

Weymouth cancels a series of policy dinners after fliers are released promising special access to public officials in exchange for donations.

May 2010

Weymouth visits Poynter during a colloquium inspired by the book, “The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press.” During her moderated conversation at the beginning of the program, Weymouth discusses the challenges of creating a sustainable business model for journalism:

“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.”

November 2012

The Post announces that Marty Baron will become the paper’s next executive editor, effective January 2013.

February 2013

Weymouth announces that the Washington Post building is for sale:

“I wanted to let everyone know that we are actively exploring relocating our headquarters.

This building has given us so much and has watched history unfold. It is hard to imagine moving after so many years. And yet, once we removed the presses from this building over ten years ago, we were no longer tied to this particular location. We understand that this is a big undertaking and a change for all of us. We take all of this seriously.”

May 2013

Baron and Weymouth discuss The Post with Economic Club president David Rubenstein:

August 5, 2013

The Post announces the paper will be sold to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos:

“The Washington Post Co. agreed Monday to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.”

Former publisher Donald Graham discusses the deal:

Weymouth gives her account of the sale:

September 2014
The Post announces Fred Ryan will succeed Weymouth as publisher:

“Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos is replacing Publisher Katharine Weymouth with Frederick J. Ryan Jr., a former Reagan administration official who was part of the founding leadership team of Politico, a primarily digital news organization that competes with The Post on political coverage, the company announced Tuesday.”


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Katharine Weymouth

Katharine Weymouth’s resignation completes the close of the Graham era at the Washington Post

Katharine Weymouth (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Katharine Weymouth (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

In a word, unsurprising. Katharine Weymouth’s announced resignation today as Washington Post publisher simply completes the ownership change initiated a year and a month ago when Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the paper.

Neither Bezos nor Weymouth were commenting (even to the Post) about the circumstances and timing of the change, though the New York Times reported it was initiated by Bezos. My guess would have been that she had agreed to stay on for a transitional year as part of the sale, but perhaps she was trying out for a longer tenure with the new owner.

It is hard to call Weymouth’s six-plus years as publisher a success, but I wouldn’t say she failed in the job either.  She took control at the worst possible time in 2008 as the deep recession accelerated the precipitous decline of print advertising, especially at metro papers. She oversaw rapid-fire experiments with new revenue sources and a series of strategies for digital growth.  None of her initiatives turned the enterprise around — but then, who in a similar situation did?

This has been the era of “Riptide” (as a Harvard study project by three former media executives was titled).  A strong legacy brand may have been as much a liability as an asset in competition with digital disruptors. Staying afloat was an accomplishment.

Weymouth’s legacy will be twofold.  In December 2012, she took a clear-eyed look at her tenure and at the Post’s prospects and persuaded her uncle, CEO Donald Graham, that it was time for a new owner, a new vision and new capital to support a transition that will take years more.

Around that same time, she hired Martin Baron away from the Boston Globe as editor.  Knowing Baron well, I am not unbiased, but he is certainly one of the best editors of his generation, if not the best.

I heard of Weymouth (without knowing much of anything about her) more than a decade ago.  Someone told me that none of Graham’s four children was interested in succeeding him in the family business, but a niece was and was moving through business jobs at the paper in preparation.

Graham had done a similar apprenticeship (as have various Sulzbergers at the New York Times).  But a tour of departments with increasing responsibilities doesn’t exactly get an heir apparent ready the way it once did.

My own limited impressions of Weymouth were formed in several visits to Poynter in St. Petersburg (where her father is an accomplished architect) and several appearances at the annual conference of the Newspaper Association of  America, where she seemed to enjoy asking the questions as a moderator more than answering them.

A sharp intelligence was evident, but she was not much on the vision thing in public forums and revealed little about what she saw as the Post’s biggest business challenges or how she planned to deal with them.  Easy for me to say, but I am not sure, in retrospect, what the benefits of greater candor would have been.

Most accounts of Weymouth’s time (including the Post’s own this morning) will rate as her greatest blunder a plan to put advertisers together with Post editors and reporters in “salons.” at her home. I think that’s a bad rap.

A mashup of an events strategy with her grandmother’s legacy as a dinner party hostess, the effort launched with bad optics and was withdrawn.  But the Post quickly got back in the events business (where sponsorships are an easy sell compared to conventional advertising). Weymouth’s version doesn’t strike me as all that different from Atlantic Media owner David Bradley’s widely praised development of a-list events as an important revenue stream.

Amanda Bennett, a seasoned top editor as well as Don Graham’s wife, was ready with an effusive tribute to Weymouth, posted as a comment minutes after Poynter Online’s news story about the change.  Bennett’s focus is on Weymouth’s “courage” in fighting the good fight, then knowing when to take the painful step of ending family control.

The morning line on Weymouth’s successor, Frederick Ryan, seems to include musings about whether his early career as a Reagan aide augurs a Post move to the right editorially.  I doubt it. Bezos is no ideologue and, especially on foreign affairs, Fred Hiatt’s editorial page is fairly conservative already.

To my mind, the more relevant factoid is that Ryan comes from Albritton Communications,  a longtime Post competitor.  Way back in the day Washington Star provided decades of second-paper competition to the Post before it was sold by Albritton and subsequently shuttered in 1981.

Fred Ryan, Jr., (Photo by John Shinkle/POLITICO

Fred Ryan, Jr., (Photo by John Shinkle/POLITICO

More recently, without a legacy newspaper culture to work through, Albritton successfully launched Politico (of which Ryan was the founding president and chief executive) in 2007 — the very model of a smooth pivot to digital at a time when the Post was still stopping and starting, trying to find its way as a print + digital business.

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

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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.” Read more


Sheryl Gay Stolberg profiles Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth:

In the meantime, things have been looking up. In January, Ms. Weymouth replaced Mr. Brauchli with Martin Baron, a no-nonsense newsman from The Boston Globe (and, previously, The New York Times), who has won praise for sharpening coverage and boosting morale. Reporters at The Post who routinely question whether their publisher “gets what we do,” now wonder if maybe, just maybe, she has found her Ben Bradlee after all.

“She made a brilliant choice,” [Post columnist Sally] Quinn said, “and it’s working.”

Not everyone is so effusive. The Post recently began charging for online access, but the climate for newspapers in general, and The Post in particular, remains tough. Mr. Baron called Ms. Weymouth “a realist,” who “still wants us to do really great journalism,” albeit “within the reality of our economic circumstances.” But he could not rule out further cuts.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times


Carr: Weymouth is the problem at Washington Post

The New York Times | The Washington Post | Nieman | New York | Adweek
Last week’s change in editorial leadership at The Washington Post was “mishandled from the start,” David Carr writes. Publisher Katharine Weymouth, who engineered the change, “still seems to be struggling to get a grasp on a huge job at a company whose journalism has at times altered the course of a nation,” Carr says. Read more

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Washington Post creates Chief Experience Officer position

Romenesko+ memo
Post publisher Katharine Weymouth says the paper is creating this CXO post, as it’s called, “to strengthen the voice of the consumer in our product development and execution.” Laura Evans, who has spent most of her nine years at the Post as chief researcher, has been named to the position. Weymouth writes in a memo announcing the appointment:

One of the three foundational elements of our strategy is a relentless focus on the customer. While we all care about the customer and try to advocate for the customer, we do not currently have an executive owner of the customer experience. That was acceptable when we published one newspaper a day—when we had a well-honed product with over a century of research behind it. In a day when we have evolved to a 24/7 news operation
publishing on multiple platforms, and when we operate in a hyper-competitive market, the customer must be the primary driver of our product-related decisions and changes.

New products and major changes to existing products will now require approval by the Chief Experience Officer, says Weymouth. Her full memo is after the jump. Read more


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