Late last week the hallowed Washington Post announced a first-quarter operating loss of $22.6 million as print ads sank 17 percent year-over-year and online revenue dipped 7 percent, too. Weekday circulation is now under 500,000, falling almost 10 percent, while the company's onetime moneymaker, the education unit Kaplan, lost some millions as well. Journalists at the paper are well aware of the problems and last month had a dark-sounding "secret meeting" to talk things out.
Adweek reports that ten of the paper's top staffers met with president and general manager Steve Hills over sandwiches to chat "about the challenges that we face," in Hills's words. The paper picked up no Pulitzers this year, and so "Hills was said to have shocked with remarks that awards 'don't matter,' urged more traffic-driving slideshows over original Post photos, and compared the Post to Ohio's Dayton Daily News, a paper with one-fifth the circulation." Welcome to 2012.
Not present at the meeting was executive editor Marcus Brauchli, who assured Adweek that the Post is still after "original, ambitious, high-impact journalism," while the investigations division editor Jeff Leen said, "We're still doing very ambitious, expensive, risky work." Key word: expensive.
Related: The Red Flag in the Flowerpot [NYM]