Brauchli: “Too Many People Call Our Newsroom”

Howie Kurtz hasn’t had to range far afield for story subjects the last couple months. Today, he delivered an in-depth piece detailing how a Washington Post Magazine story was killed after publisher Katharine Weymouth expressed displeasure with the topic. (The precise chain of causality is open to interpretation.)

Kurtz’s piece scooped Erik Wemple of the Washington City Paper, who’d been working on the same story. But Wemple still gets lots of interesting stuff into his lengthy blog post on the subject, including this description of his exchange with Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli:

The top guy couldn’t have been less sympathetic to my sourcing problem. “I don’t think it’s necessary for us to lay out all of the processes in the newspaper to make decisions,” he snapped. “Newspapers spend way too much time explaining themselves.” He went on: “Too many people call our newsroom. There are endless queries on our journalism these days. I think it’s better for us to focus on producing journalism than on our process.”

The passage called to mind my own experience reporting on the Post’s decision to pull the now-infamous “Mad Bitch” “Mouthpiece Theater” video from its site. In that case, I had some follow-up questions about the paper’s policies, and I put them to a spokesperson to whom I’d been referred after the relevant editor declined comment. After a few hours, I received a very polite reply that didn’t answer any of the questions—but did note that “the video has been sufficiently covered by the press.”

(h/t Jack Shafer for the Wemple link)

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.