Populism on the Potomac

Is anyone in DC reporting for the people?

On Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton presented a plan for the paper he’s charged with watching.

His stirring proposal? The Post should redefine its audience and write hard-hitting work that serves the needs of the majority of Americans who live and work outside the Beltway, but whose lives are subject to Washington’s politicians and their whims.

As Greg Marx pointed out in a piece for Campaign Desk casting doubt on the wisdom of the move from a business standpoint, this would be a different tack from the Post’s current strategy:

This is a pretty direct rebuke to the editorial vision that’s been outlined by the top leadership at the paper. As the Post’s executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, told CJR’s Scott Sherman last fall, the paper’s current strategy is “really to be for and about Washington.” To write about Washington but for “all Americans,” as Pexton calls on the paper to do, is a very different project—one that requires being not of D.C., but apart from it.

But Pexton’s column, besides asserting that the coverage should not be slanted, left- or rightward, laid out little vision of what such a reporting strategy would look like or produce.

So we ask you: What kinds of stories should a hypothetical nonpartisan populist news outlet based in D.C. pursue? Are there existing outlets that you think are performing this mission?

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , , , ,