It’s been widely reported that The Washington Post is on a hiring spree. As David Carr noted in his Oct. 5 column, The Post has added more than 100 staffers this year with runway provided by new owner Jeff Bezos.
Several of those hires were made for The Post’s features desk, which is striking out into new beats and growing its existing coverage in print and online. So far in 2014, the features department has added at least eight staffers, including a national arts reporter, an Internet culture blogger and a fashion critic:
- Geoff Edgers, formerly of The Boston Globe, joined The Post as a national arts reporter.
- Peggy McGlone, previously a features writer at the (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, now covers local arts — including the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center — for The Post.
- Caitlin Dewey joined the features staff as an Internet culture blogger in February.
- Robin Givhan rejoined The Post as a fashion critic after leaving for The Daily Beast in 2012.
- Karen Heller joined The Post as a general assignment features reporter. She was previously a metro columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Jessica Contrera and Sarah Kaplan, who both started as summer interns, now work on the features desk. Contrera is a full-time general assignment reporter and Kaplan divides her time between general assignment duties and Kids Post.
- Nora Krug joined The Post in June as Book World Editor.
The Post, which former publisher Katharine Weymouth once wrote should be “for, and about Washington” seems to have grown beyond that mandate, at least in its features coverage. With the addition of Edgers to cover the national arts beat and an emphasis on covering pop culture, The Post appears to be reaching out to readers within and beyond the D.C. Metropolitan area.
The features strategy aligns with the paper’s broader ambitions to reach outside The Beltway with its journalism. When The Post debuted its new Kindle app last month, executive editor Marty Baron told Ravi Somaiya he’d hired many national reporters with an eye toward serving up content for the app. Baron also said Bezos had prescribed a “broad strategy shift toward” expanding The Post’s “national and international audience.”
Liz Seymour, executive features editor at The Post, tells Poynter in an email that the paper is bolstering an already strong tradition of quality local and national culture writing.
“What we are doing now is beefing up our arts reporters to collaborate with our critics and strengthen our arts journalism even more,” Seymour wrote.
The hires have coincided with a reorganization of The Post’s features desk, Seymour said. Rather than being organized around a single print section, reporters are now assigned teams based on broad areas of coverage, including pop culture or general assignment. This enables reporters covering similar topics to communicate and coordinate their coverage better, she said.
Although she didn’t make specific numbers available, Seymour says The Post’s features coverage has garnered “massive” month-over-month growth in both pageviews and unique visitors. The traffic growth has not been confined to one area of features coverage, she said.
When top Post editors lauded the paper’s record traffic month in September, they cited several features desk initiatives, including The Intersect, the Style Blog and On Parenting.
The Post has also expanded its features coverage in print by merging Sunday Arts and Sunday Style into a larger section for fine arts and pop culture, Seymour said. The Post also redesigned and grew the Sunday Washington Post Magazine for its April debut and added two pages to its weekly Food section.
The uptick in pages, traffic, and staffers has lifted spirits on the features staff, Seymour wrote in an email to Poynter.
“We’re all energized and enthusiastic about the added investment in staff,” Seymour wrote. “Who wouldn’t be? And it’s great to see, through metrics, our readership grow and grow.” Read more