This just in: The Washington Post is the latest major newspaper to undergo the apparently inevitable newsroom downsizing process, clearing out 100 more journalists with a “blunt instrument,” as former Post (and former New York Times) writer Sharon Waxman reports in her WaxWord blog. “The Washington Post as I know it has jumped the shark,” Waxman laments.
At this rate, whither the National desk? Whither Foreign? Word is that executive editor Leonard Downie is on his way to retirement (he denied it today to Joe Strupp). The other rumor is that managing editor Phil Bennett will not be his successor. Make no mistake; we are eviscerating the heart of the institutions that act as our watchdogs to power. (While I’m at it, here’s a tip of the hat to colleagues just laid off at The New York Times: the talented Jeff Leeds, who ably covered the music beat in LA; Katie Hafner in San Francisco; Claudia Deutsch in business, and others.)
No one has clear answers to the crisis that faces newspapers today, and the impact that the diminishing of great journalism will have in a free society. But we had damn well better start figuring it out.