Downie and Bradlee Welcome 'Outsider' Brauchli

By Strupp, Joe | Editor & Publisher, July 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Downie and Bradlee Welcome 'Outsider' Brauchli


Strupp, Joe, Editor & Publisher


The appointment of Marcus Brauchli as the new executive editor of The Washington Post drew support from the two men who have held that job for the past 40 years.

Current Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and his predecessor, Ben Bradlee, both welcomed the appointment of Brauchli, the former Wall Street Journal managing editor who was named to the top post late Monday.

But only Bradlee saw the significance of bringing in an outsider. "It means that they didn't have one homegrown who was ready," he told E&P. "They didn't think they had a guy ready. If they got the right guy, that is good. It is as simple as that."

Downie, who would not comment on what role, if any, he played in the appointment of Brauchli, said the lack of Post experience is not an issue. "I don't think that makes much difference one way or another," he told E&P. "[Publisher] Katharine [Weymouth] looked for the best person she could find for the job."

Weymouth, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, planned to introduce Brauchli to the staff at an 11 a.m. meeting. One source at the paper said the plan had been to announce Brauchli's appointment today, but when word began to leak out Monday, the announcement was released then.

"It was being posted everywhere, you could find it in other places," the source said. "We just felt it was time."

Meanwhile, Post staffers offered optimism at the prospect of having Brauchli run the paper. Dana Priest, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and veteran of 22 years at the paper, said, "I think people are relieved that a decision has been made." She also said the choice of an outsider is not a big deal, adding: "The Post has always been a reporter-driven paper. Everyone I know is certainly going to give the benefit of the doubt, and more."

James Grimaldi, another Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter, said of Brauchli: "He has very big shoes to fill. So I wish him all the luck in the world, because the future of The Washington Post and -- what Post journalism means -- might very well depend on it."

Post Media Writer Howard Kurtz, who wrote the Web story late Monday about Brauchli's appointment, had to do so from Los Angeles where he is on vacation. He would not say if he had to rush it out to make the earlier release.

"I don't know all the ins and outs on the timing of the announcement," Kurtz wrote. "But I feel I had enough time to produce a thorough story, get it online and refine it for the next day's paper."

Downie had been at the paper since 1964 when he was appointed executive editor in 1991, after several years as Bradlee's managing editor. …

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