Articles about "Washington Post"

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Why the time is right for The Washington Post & others to boost video initiatives

The Washington Post will formally launch PostTV today — a big gamble that it can widen audience and win significant advertising revenue by producing digital video programs and distributing the segments to various partners.

Announced in concept in June, PostTV includes an existing news summary show called “The Fold.” “On Background” — an interactive news discussion hosted by Nia-Malika Henderson — will debut today at 12:30 p.m. ET, its regular time spot. Later in the week, “In Play,” a political show anchored by Chris Cillizza and former USA Today reporter Jackie Kucinich, will be added.

These three are just a start to a much bigger venture, senior editor for video Andrew Pergam told me in a phone interview. Additional shows will follow, and all will be chopped into segments that can be viewed individually and, over time, made available on other platforms.

The Post is not revealing specific staff and cost numbers or what new advertising revenue it expects to take in. But Pergam did not dispute talk I’ve heard from the newsroom that this is one of the paper’s biggest expansion investments in a decade.

I have written before that there is a try-try-again quality to the Post’s video initiatives. In the past, the Post hired star videographers like Travis Fox (who’s no longer with the paper) to produce ambitious top-of-the-line pieces — an artistic success that did not draw enough audience or advertising to work as a business.

But now the time is right with audience moving from desktop to mobile, where video accounts for a much larger share of news consumption, up to 50 percent according to one study.  Advertiser demand is robust and expanding, and the going rates ($25 per thousand impressions is typical) are multiples higher than what static banner ads command.

The Post will be entering an arms race of sorts with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, all dashing headlong to expand their video offerings for the same reasons.

While PostTV has poached production hires from CNN and MSNBC, Pergam is taking pains to differentiate his programming from typical cable news fare.

For instance, Henderson’s show, he said, “is an attempt to rethink what an interactive show should be.” A topic or a question (for example, “What is one thing the city of Detroit should do?”) will be posted throughout social media platforms early in the day. The live conversation comes during the lunch hour, but the discussion chain stays open after. The aim, Pergam continued, “is to weave social media into the show,” relying principally on PostTV’s Twitter account and the hosts’ individual accounts.

Similarly, Pergam wrote in his June preview, the Cillizza-Kucinich show will aim to “cut through the noise to help you better understand what’s ‘In Play’ in politics right now, and what’s ahead. We’ll give you a sense of the day in Washington, the stories you may have missed and an informed look ahead.”

The Fold” started as a Google TV program, Pergam said, aimed at so-called “cord cutters,” a mostly younger demographic who think they can do without the considerable expense of cable watching time-shifted entertainment shows on alternative platforms like Hulu.

The Wall Street Journal was early to the video party in 2010, with both produced newscasts and training hundreds of journalists out in the field to make brief, rudimentary videos shot on cell phones or simple cameras. 

In the Post’s plans, Pergam said, “there’s room for on the ground reporting, and you’ll see that from us, too.” But for right now, the emphasis is on “going for quality, a higher level of analysis and production.”

Video has been a longtime presence in The New York Times digital editions, ranging from spot analysis of breaking news like a major Supreme Court decision, to David Carr and A.O. Scott’s Friday chats on arts topics to, more recently, actual performance clips. Most are in crisp two- to five-minute segments. 

But the Times too has indicated that lots more is on the way. In its April announcement of a new growth strategy, the third of four planks was:

The development of a more robust and comprehensive video presence is another strategic initiative, which is still in the early stages of development. The company recently appointed a new general manager of video production to lead the effort to scale The Times’s video business to satisfy the demands of both users and advertisers.

USA Today has spent several years developing video segments in its topical specialties, including travel, technology and sports. Sports clips on major league teams and big college programs also have been a hit for many metros.

The Post, which is phasing in a new porous paywall this summer, intends to offer all the video for free. The Times also changed its policy in April so that video views do not count against a monthly quota of open access articles. The company has said videos will remain free for the foreseeable future.

What that says for the developing video business model is that advertising demand and rates are so strong that organizations will make more money by maximizing viewership than extracting subscription revenue from regular users.

PostTV dovetails with another strong trend of the last several years — the rising importance of individual brands (much in the news last week as stats-guy Nate Silver announced he is leaving the Times for ESPN).

Cillizza is an example, as the lead reporter among several for The Fix, a quick-format collection of political tidbits. Other cases in point include Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook at the Times, the Journal’s AllThingsD, featuring Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher with 10 other reporters, and Bill Simmons’ Grantland at ESPN. The Post also announced last week that it is launching its own tech blog and another on state and local government.

To me, this suggests the top national news organizations are still building their franchise on comprehensive reports and editorial judgment but they also want a piece of the action in personal brands like those Andrew Sullivan or Josh Marshall have built on digital-only sites.

I would also take the PostTV debut as consistent with a quickened pace of innovation since Marty Baron became editor the first of the year. Pergam joined the Post to develop the project almost two years ago, after stints teaching at American University and earlier work as a reporter and editor at NBC.

But the pace picked up in 2013, he said. “Seven months has been a pretty aggressive schedule to get this done. It’s been exhilarating but it’s also exhausting.” Read more


Washington Post Guild: ‘The Post would like to fire you’

The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild says a Washington Post proposal for a new agreement with the union “would give managers the power to fire anyone for any reason” and also inserts a “poison pill that would make it even harder for the union to collect dues at the end of the next contract.”

Its proposal says management “reserves the right to terminate an employee for attendance and performance problems” without a written warning and a suspension as is currently required, “in appropriate cases.”

Another proposal, the bulletin says, would “eliminate important layoff provisions.” Read more

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Videolicious: One way reporters can make and file decent videos from their iPhones

There were few specifics in the Chicago Sun-Times’ announcement that it had laid off its photographers and tasked its reporters with capturing photos and video via iPhone. For instance: How in the heck will reporters capture quality video if they have little or no video experience?

One possible answer may be found at The Washington Post, which has deputized some of its reporters to create videos using an iOS app called Videolicious. Post deputy editor of video Jonathan Forsythe stresses that while the paper does “not have any plans for Videolicious to ever replace our high-quality video stories shot and reported by our video department,” some of its journalists have made popular Web-ready videos since it began training staff to use the tool late last year. Read more

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Washington Post Co. shuts 2 Maryland papers

Gazette.Net | The Frederick News-Post

The Washington Post Co. announced Wednesday it would stop publishing the Frederick County, Md., editions of its Gazette newspapers. Post-Newsweek Media CEO Karen Acton said the move “became necessary due to changes in the market conditions in Frederick,” a county about 40 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

Wednesday’s editions of the Frederick papers were their last, and 18 full-time employees and 12 part-time employees lost their jobs, Post Co. spokesperson Rima Calderon told Cara R. Anthony of the Frederick News-Post. Post-Newsweek Media still prints Gazette papers in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, as well as the weekly Fairfax County Times in Virginia and newspapers in Southern Maryland. Read more


How the Washington Post made its election-predictor tool

Source | Washington Post

NPR news apps developer Jeremy Bowers discusses in Knight-Mozilla OpenNews’ Source the legwork that went into the Washington Post’s election predictor app.

Bowers worked with the Post’s Ezra Klein and graphics editor Emily Chow to produce the tool, which launched in April 2012 using economic data models from to predict the likelihood of President Obama being re-elected. In the essay, Bowers says the work of political science professors John Sides at George Washington University, Lynn Vavreck at UCLA, and Seth Hill at Yale (now of UC-San Diego) was integral to the process. Read more


The latest on new HQs for NPR, Miami Herald and Washington Post

NPR officially moves into a new headquarters in Washington, D.C. today, five years after it bought the property and began planning for the move.

NPR had been based in a narrow triangular building in the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood since 1994. The new headquarters is a historically preserved, four-story warehouse from the 1920s, joined with a new seven-story office tower on North Capitol Street. It offers much more space, including “a two-story open newsroom with broadcast and production studios,” as well as views of the Capitol.


The historic NPR sign was relocated to the new building Monday morning.

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Denver Post, San Antonio Express-News among Scripps Howard award winners

Scripps Howard Foundation
Spencer S. Hsu won the Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize for investigative reporting in this year’s Scripps Howard Awards, announced Thursday. Hsu’s articles on forensic science “exposed the Department of Justice’s use of flawed data in more than 20,000 criminal convictions,” the awards text reads.

Other winners include Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne of the Chicago Tribune for their series on flame retardant furniture, Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News for her photojournalism, and the Denver Post for its breaking-news coverage of the July 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater shootings. The New York Times won in the digital innovation category for “Snow Fall.” The Post’s Aurora coverage and “Snow Fall” also both won ASNE awards.

Previously: SABEW, Selden Ring, SND winners announced as awards season heats up | Austin Tice, David Corn win Polk Awards Read more

Reading the newspaper

Washington Post appoints its first ‘reader representative’

Washington Post
Doug Feaver “will serve as an advocate for readers, responding to their questions and concerns,” the Post announced today.

Doug Feaver

Feaver was a career Postie — a reporter and editor for 29 years on the Business, Metro and National desks. He then became executive editor of in 1998 and retired in 2005. He stayed involved for a few more years with a blog called dot.comments that responded to reader comments on the site.

The Post just ended its ombudsman program, replacing it with this new reader representative. Unlike Patrick Pexton and other Post ombudsmen of the past, the reader rep is a Post employee (not an independent contractor) and will not have a regular weekly print column.

It seems the primary outlet of expression for Feaver and assistant reader representative Alison Coglianese will be a blog on Feaver is on Twitter (@feaverdb), but has barely used it since 2011.

Related: Washington City Paper writer appoints himself as the Post’s new ombudsman

PreviouslyPexton: Ombudsman can get answers from reporters who won’t answer readers Read more


Washington Post preserves environmental coverage while moving staff

The Huffington Post | Slate
Juliet Eilperin is switching from The Washington Post’s environment beat to its “online strike force” in politics. Rest easy, those of you concerned by The New York Times’ decision to shutter its Green blog not long after closing down its environment pod — the move doesn’t reflect a change in the number of people the Post will throw at environment coverage.

“Darryl Fears is still on the environment beat for us and Juliet’s position will be backfilled,” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti writes to Poynter in an email, using the latter term to indicate Eilperin’s opening will likely be filled by someone within the company. Eilperin, she adds, “is also taking her expertise with her — she will be reporting on the debate over climate change and environmental policy from her White House perch.”

Will Oremus counts some of “the 65-odd other Times blogs that did not get the axe”:

Five blogs on culture and media, including “The Carbetbagger,” about awards shows; “After Deadline: Notes from the newsroom on grammar, usage and style;” and “Media Decoder,” a media-industry blog that so far has not seen fit to cover the Times’ own elimination of its “Green” blog.

The Post does not have a science blog. Read more


Washington Post hires fourth Ford-funded investigative reporter

The Washington Post

John Sullivan, who helped lead a Philadelphia Inquirer team to a Pulitzer Prize with an examination of violence in Philadelphia schools, will join both The Washington Post and American University in May.

Sullivan’s position at the Post will be underwritten by a half-million-dollar grant the Ford Foundation announced last summer it would give the Post for government-accountability reporting. The Post hired Mike Sallah from the Miami Herald, Kimbriell Kelly from the Chicago Reporter and Amy Brittain from the Newark Star Ledger with some of that cash last year.

Sullivan, who left the Inquirer in 2011 to become a faculty member at Medill, will also teach investigative reporting at American University. Read more