McClatchy’s foreign correspondents are headed to the U.S. as part of a broader restructuring of the Washington, D.C. bureau, the newspaper company announced Monday.
No layoffs or buyouts will result from the reorganization, Gyllenhaal told Poynter in an email. Instead, the company’s foreign correspondents will figure into a realigned editorial strategy. International reporting will be project based and less frequent.
In discontinuing its foreign bureaus, McClatchy is scaling back its international coverage in favor of an editorial strategy that emphasizes regional stories and political coverage. As part of the reorganization, McClatchy will organize a “strike force” dedicated to chasing down enterprise stories and establish a database team to work with the company’s various newsrooms, according to the memo.
The bureau will maintain its national beats, which are key to both covering the capital and developing a strong regional report. With the election ahead, we will place increasing focus on political news. To make the most of this coverage, our DC website, McClatchyDC.com, will be built around our political reporting, supplemented by the wider coverage from the bureau and our newsrooms.
McClatchy is among the last of the regional newspaper companies to maintain foreign bureaus, and its de-emphasis of international coverage follows similar moves made by The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, Newsday and others.
At the same time, many of the largest news organizations in the U.S. are making renewed investments in international coverage in the hopes of reaching untapped audiences abroad. VICE, The New York Times and BuzzFeed have all touted expanded international ambitions in recent days as the companies chase international readers and the potential ad revenue they could bring.
McClatchy’s D.C. bureau is legendary in journalism circles for being a prominent voice of skepticism during the run-up to the Iraq War, with correspondents Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, Joe Galloway and former D.C. Bureau Chief John Walcott providing hard-nosed coverage while others regurgitated official White House talking points.
Landay, who is leaving McClatchy for Reuters, told The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone on Friday that the company is “shutting off an important source of news and analysis at a time when we need to be paying more attention.”
Gyllenhaal noted the reorganization does not signal a de-emphasis of McClatchy’s D.C. operation. The company will add “two dozen” video staffers to its Washington outpose “to lead and strengthen our video work across all 29 newsrooms,” he said.
“We’re not backing away from the importance of the bureau,” Gyllenhaal said in an email. “Our Washington operation is one of the strengths of McClatchy, but we do think we need to use our resources differently.”
Here’s the full memo:
Today, we’re announcing an important shift in the mission of the Washington bureau to focus above all on regional and political coverage, as well as national stories of particular impact in our communities. These changes better align the bureau with McClatchy’s overall news strategy and more directly support our newsrooms with the kind of high quality journalism McClatchy stands for. We’re talking about this in staff meetings at the bureau this morning. We also wanted to explain the thinking to editors and publishers and to our newsrooms.
As we all know, we’re in the midst of enormous change in journalism. In the past year, McClatchy has been reshaping digital publishing plans, redesigning all our platforms and revamping how newsrooms operate. Editors in DC and across the country have also been working on how the bureau should evolve.
Our Washington operation will reorganize to place most of its emphasis on regional stories and political coverage. A significant amount of our reporting resources will be devoted to these beats and assignments, including a “strike force” team to pursue enterprise and developing stories and a database team to work with newsrooms on data-driven coverage.
With this shift, the handling of international coverage will change. Our foreign correspondents, many of our most veteran reporters, will return to the U.S. to play prominent roles at home. We’ll continue to undertake international projects on in-depth stories, working with individual McClatchy newsrooms and with partners around the world, as we’ve been doing this past year on topics ranging from the Nicaraguan canal to the pipeline of synthetic drugs coming into the U.S. from China. The coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, a brand of regional coverage for the readers of both papers, will not change.
The bureau will maintain its national beats, which are key to both covering the capital and developing a strong regional report. With the election ahead, we will place increasing focus on political news. To make the most of this coverage, our DC website, McClatchyDC.com, will be built around our political reporting, supplemented by the wider coverage from the bureau and our newsrooms. We’re developing ambitious plans for the elections, where the combination of our national and regional expertise is at its best. Coverage plans will highlight our veteran reporters and analysts, our partnership with the Marist Polling, political reporters in almost all the key states and our expanded video operations in DC.
While this plan is a departure from the past, it positions the bureau to apply the McClatchy brand of aggressive, independent journalism in ways we believe will serve our readers well. As a company, we can be very proud of the work our staffs have done over the past decade in all parts of the world. But in an era of specialization in journalism, we think this is the right time to take a new approach.
The bureau will complete its reorganization over the next several weeks. We’ll keep you informed on the next steps and look forward to working with you as these changes go into place.