Kudos for the Washington Post
While I am not much for rules and regulations, it is nice to see a mainstream newspaper struggling to figure out its relationship with its online arm. Last week, the Washington Post, where I worked for many years, put out to its staff a memo called: “Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web.”
The Post is among the most popular and successful Web sites in the media space and it continues to try out new digital ideas, even as its print business suffers, without a lot of fuss.
The list has the same tone. While a lot of it is now blazingly obvious, it clearly reflects changes in the attitude of mainstream media in a very short time frame, while also preserving its most important standards.
Excuse me for wallowing in newspaper reverie, but even the most snarky blogger would have a hard time disagreeing with the Post’s 10 principles (although I am sure some will try!).
Here they are:
1. The Washington Post is an online source of local, national and international news and information. We serve local, national and international audiences on the Web.
2. We will be prepared to publish Washington Post journalism online 24/7. Web users expect to see news as it happens. If they do not find it on our site they will go elsewhere.
3. We will publish most scoops and other exclusives when they are ready, which often will be online.
4. The originality and added value of Post journalism distinguishes us on the Web. We will emphasize enterprise, analysis, criticism and investigations in our online journalism.
5. Post journalism published online has the same value as journalism published in the newspaper. We embrace chats, blogs and multimedia presentations as contributions to our journalism.
6. Accuracy, fairness and transparency are as important online as on the printed page. Post journalism in either medium should meet those standards.
7. We recognize and support the central role of opinion, personality and reader-generated content on the Web. But reporters and editors should not express personal opinions unless they would be allowed in the newspaper, such as in criticism or columns.
8. The newsroom will respond to the rhythms of the Web as ably and responsibly as we do to the rhythms of the printed newspaper. Our deadline schedules, newsroom structures and forms of journalism will evolve to meet the possibilities of the Web.
9. Newsroom employees will receive training appropriate to their roles in producing online journalism.
10. Publishing our journalism on the Web should make us more open to change what we publish in the printed newspaper. There is no meaningful division at The Post between “old media” and “new media.”