The Washington Post invites 'real people' to website, paper critiques

A memo from Senior Editor Peter Perl lays out the initiative, which could conceivably allow the paper to hear back about its journalism.

As most of you know, we do a brief critique of the web site and the paper every weekday morning at the 10 am meeting. Milton Coleman recently raised the interesting idea of seeking the feedback of key people in the community, finding out what they think of our news and information presentation. We'd like to give this a try and intermittently have 'real people' outside the newsroom do the critique. It's a pretty simple process: we ask people to highlight several things we did well and things we could have done better that day, raising whatever issues they believe are important to improving what we do.

Are there people on your beats or in the community whom you think would make good critics?? If so, check it out with them and send me names, and we will work them into our schedule, either for one-time visit or for our rotation, which would involve a critique every 3 months or so.


Reached by email, Perl says the paper started daily crit sessions with newsroom staffers several years ago. "This often leads to good conversations among senior editors and spurs new story ideas, new awareness of our shortcomings, etc.," he writes. About 40 staffers take part, in a rotation that requires their services "once every few months," Perl writes. "We are now thinking that it would give us some fresh insights to put some real readers in the mix. This, to us, could be a lot more meaningful that the constant drone of 'feedback' in the blogosphere and from our competing organizations."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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