The Kaplan test prep and financial aid recycling machine has been hit hard by new federal regulations that require for-profit colleges to provide actual educations, so Kaplan profits can no longer support the Washington Post, and there are more layoffs coming. The Post ombudsman gets to the heart of the problem:
But in looking at this buyout, I worry that The Post is moving away from local news and toward a publication that covers only national politics and government and the Redskins, one that relies too much on columnists.
In other words, why is Richard Cohen still pulling down a salary at the Post after layoffs have shrunk the newsroom from 1000 to 640?
The Times profile of the Post’s problems includes this not-very-encouraging passage:
Mr. Narisetti, who left the paper last month for a new job at The Wall Street Journal, where both he and Mr. Brauchli had worked before The Post, brought large flat-screen monitors into the newsroom that projected in real time what the most popular stories were online. He installed a new internal publishing system that required reporters to identify Google-friendly key words and flag them before their stories could be edited.
There are 35 different daily reports that track traffic to different parts of the Web site. Editors receive a midday performance alert, telling them whether the site is on track to meet its traffic goals for the day. If it appears that they might miss their goal, editors will order up fresher content.
The other day, Salon reported that they stopped “ordering up fresher content” by publishing fewer “link bait” stories that were just rewrites of other stories on the web, and instead focused on more original content. Their traffic is up 33%. It sounds like the Post is going in the opposite direction.
Another development the Post isn’t considering: the Guardian’s editor took a pay and pension cut.
The one smart thing that the Post has done lately is to let Ezra Klein expand his Wonkblog to add more high-quality analysis. Sarah Kliff in particular has done a good job recently with the Komen and birth control stories. Other than that, I don’t think we’ll be seeing much improvement at the Post anytime soon.
(A lot of this is via James Fallows and Jay Rosen.)
The WaPo’s Columnist Index lists roughly thirty people or entities, the overwhelming majority of whom are hacks, jokes, or disasters (I’d except Sargent, Ezra Klein, and a few others). Assuming even half of those travesties are pulling a full salary as a columnist, that’s something like 1/50th of their remaining newsroom staff. Not an obviously good allocation of resources; I can’t imagine anyone is particularly burning to know what Marc Thiessen thinks about anything.
As a matter of fact, the WaPo local coverage has already gone to the bow-wows. A few years ago, the Post bought the ‘Gazette’ group of local weekly rags, and now the Post’s local coverage seems to be taken mostly from that. Now, I guess I shouldn’t get all snooty about the ‘Gazette’ papers, they serve a purpose, they deliver news to customers. However, sub-contracted news gathering is just not as good as the real thing, IMO.
Does this mean teh pundtwits will all be dead in a decade ? That would greatly improve the conversation in the country.
c u n d gulag
Fred Hiatt’s solution?
More Kristol and Krauthammer kkklones!
It’s not just the WaPoo. A friend who is connected to the Village told me that Harry Reid has people watching Twitter so the Senate knows what’s important and how to vote.
The tail is so wagging the dog. We are all doomed.
Justice can bring it. Genesis was brilliant, but the rest of the album seemed to turn into sesame street.
As a sort-of-Kaplan alumni, I hope this improves the college.
@shpx.ohfu: someone should set up an automated twitter feed that generates millions of democratic memes that harry and the boys can read. It could change history.
I’ve never got why the papers are willing the dish out so much money for columnists. They’re a sideshow — for the most part, actual news is what really sells papers and generates hits. There are writers who can sell papers all on their own, but they’re few and far between. And Richard Cohen is no Molly Ivins.
Columnists should be last on the list of priorities for newspapers. After obituaries, after sports, after weddings, after comics.
The Wapo website is so slow as to be mostly useless.
I was a newspaper columnist (sports) for many years, and I agree we are the onion rings at best and parsley at worst on the plate of the steak dinner newspapers offer. I also agree the Post Web site is by far the most user-unfriendly of the big paper sites.
The Post has basically become Variety for Congress. Except it has way less information and a much less critical eye than Variety does.
Josh Marshall is even worse. He has the same flat screens, only with what the 24-hour “news” channels are hyping at the moment. So Drudge rules his world also, too, by proxy.
Um…no. Kap Test Prep and their for-profit colleges are different entities. Test Prep hasn’t been hurt by anything; in fact, they’re making hand-over-fist with the new online courses, that allow the instructor:student ratio to hit as high as 1:150 or more. That’s wicked good return compared to the normal classroom ratio of about 1:20. Cash cow.
So Test Prep is legit and making mad scratch. Stop conflating the legit biz with their snake-oil “university” bullshit.
1972 was a long time ago. Given the current state of, and likely outcome for, the newsprint industry, I don’t get why progressives continue to fixate on this rag or the NYT.
@Tripod: For the same reason it is hard to admit a beloved parent is now wearing their underwear on their heads in public.
Villago Delenda Est
Executives take a pay and pension cut?
That idea is just totally off the reservation in this country. The people at the top NEVER make sacrifices for the good of the organization. EVER. This is absolutely unheard of. Why, in 18th century France, the country was in dire economic straits, and the solution was a 5% tax on everyone…but the 1st and 2nd Estates (clergy and aristocracy), of course.
When things came to a head, many clerics and aristocrats were remembered, and lost theirs.
@shpx.ohfu: It could be worse. Harry Reid could have people reading the Washington Post so the Senate knows what’s important and how to vote.
Blanche, I have a hard time differentiating the suckitude between 140 characters of drivel by any buttscratch with a tablet and the content from Fred Hiatt’s WaPoo, so I’ll have to take your work for it.
As a former employee of the Kaplan test-prep sweatshop, I couldn’t be happier to hear it.
The ridiculous dot connecting never ends with mistermix. There are no combinations of improbable events he will not try to connect to write his own version of reality. Gotta get in that post quota to get his share of that lucrative calendar and coffee mug gold mine that not REPUBLICAN Cole dangles in front of him I guess.
This is why THEY fight. Obama is a business regulating sonofabitch. Big business has had thirty years of the easy life, and they do not like a man at the helm who takes his job seriously.
(With acknowledgement of @Punchy‘s correction of which part of the business is getting the screws.)
pseudonymous in nc
Nice analogy. It’s the sort of paper you’d imagine coming from an old company town: part trade rag, part village newsletter.
Hey mistermix. How many grammys did your favorite singer Lana Del Rey win last night? You are clearly as good at judging talent as you are at writing political blogs.
Among the many reasons Post readership is down is that they have utterly failed to cover an increasingly serious problem affecting hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians: the steady decline of the Metro system. Trains are signficantly delayed and break down regularly; tracks fall apart for lack of repair; management is so incompetent that the theft of tens of thousands of dollars from fare card machines was known but unaddressed until a convenience store clerk, tired of receiving coins in exchange for lotto tickets, finally alerted law enforcement; elevators and escalators are offline for months on end; and yet fares keep going up and up.
The Post’s transportation reporters leave the reporting on the slow death of Metro to The Examiner, a free paper, and dedicated local bloggers. Who seem to actually have sources.
Villago Delenda Est
Ah, mistermix has a stalker troll! Probably a recycled one.
@Villago Delenda Est: not REPUBLICAN Cole hasn’t been obsessing over his favorite gloom porn topics much lately so I gotta keep myself occupied.
I’m sure once his prozac subcription expires he will back to his usual self. Ranting over drones and whatever other horseshit Greenwald injects into his easily led brain.
@Villago Delenda Est: Smells like Fred/Derf, redux.
Or you could just get a life, you’re the worst (boring) troll ever.
@uptown: I am flattered. Always to happy get attention from my groupies.
This question needs no qualifiers:
“why is Richard Cohen still pulling down a salary at the Post?”
I’m a subscriber for most of the past 40 yrs excepting time in Seattle and before that the Post strike. The deteriorating quality breaks my heart. This was the paper that exposed pharmaceutical companies, had Gary Arnold as a reviewer, the world’s greatest garden columnist Henry Mitchell and Myra McPherson’s amazing profiles of powerful people.
Now, I read Michelle Singletary, Steve Pearlstein, and Harold Myerson. The subscription is really for the
This blog post is getting kind of stale. Come on gloom porners. Surely you can find some dark linings among all the silver clouds to spew on about. Not REPUBLICAN Cole needs to crank up the gloom and talk about how we need to end all wars today and turn all drones into flower beds or whatever.
@Vickie Feminist: There is this new alternative called the “internet”. Something that is capable of making todays newspaper yesterdays news. No ink on your fingers either.
Look into it. Reminiscing about the good ole days of AM radio, B&W TV, and newspapers isn’t going to accomplish anything.