Embattled NYT questions leadership change at the WaPo

posted at 8:01 am on November 19, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not too often that one sees a major newspaper attacking another in a different market.  In today’s New York Times, though, media critic David Carr criticizes the management at the Washington Post in both the manner and substance of their change at the top of the editorial structure.  In doing so, Carr uses anonymous sources to paint publisher Katharine Weymouth as incompetent and out of touch at a bad time for the industry:

It is an inopportune time for The Post to stumble. Ms. Weymouth’s move is akin to switching drivers just as the car is sputtering to a stop. Print, and more ominously, digital advertising revenue is in decline, circulation is in a dive and the newspaper’s “for and about Washington” editorial strategy has left employees underwhelmed. Now Ms. Weymouth seems to be upending the loyalty and accountability that has been a hallmark of her family’s ownership of the newspaper.

After the meeting, people returned to their desks wondering whether Ms. Weymouth was capable of leading the organization. In Mr. Baron, she may have selected a talented and independent editorial leader. But four years into her tenure at the top, she still seems to be struggling to get a grasp on a huge job at a company whose journalism has at times altered the course of a nation.

It is no coincidence that the vast majority of the most important newspapers in the country are controlled by families, not conglomerates, and that comes with advantages and drawbacks. While Ms. Weymouth got her job because of who she is, a Graham, people expect her to find a way to make it work, against tall odds, for the same reason.

That’s a pretty remarkable statement coming from the New York Times, even from a columnist.  The NYT is itself a family-run business, whose publishers aren’t selected from a wide range of qualified candidates but instead a narrow DNA pool of Sulzbergers.  This criticism may be apt, but perhaps Carr should look to the beam in the Gray Lady’s eye first before tending to the speck in the Post’s.

It’s not as if Carr doesn’t understand that the NYT has little standing to criticize management changes at other newspapers, either:

Fumbling an editorial change may seem like small beer when viewed against the backdrop of an industry in which bankruptcies are legion and rich business interests are buying newspapers as playthings. And it’s not as if The New York Times has been a model of seamless transitions in the executive suite — the departure of the previous chief executive, Janet Robinson, was not handled forthrightly, and her replacement, Mark Thompson, has come under scrutiny for serious problems he failed to notice in his previous job.

But with around 600 journalists, The Post is still an important player. It is not what it once was, but it isn’t nothing either. Ms. Weymouth’s continued misfires, along with the lack of success in generating new revenue, however, have left the newspaper staring down the gun barrel of deep cuts and a business model in free fall.

Note that Carr never mentions the fact of hereditary publishing at the Times.  He also waters down the “scrutiny” being given to his own paper’s editorial change.  Thompson ran the BBC, which under his management killed a story about one of the network’s stars and allegations that he had committed perhaps hundreds of acts of pedophilia and/or pederasty:

Thompson’s reputation has been called into question by the child-abuse scandal that has overtaken the BBC. Jimmy Savile, an enduring BBC personality who died last year, is suspected of widespread acts of pedophilia — and critics are also questioning whether the BBC helped cover up his acts. Some executives at the broadcaster have resigned. Read story at Wall Street Journal: BBC’s head of news steps aside.

After an exhaustive search to fill the spot vacated by Janet Robinson nearly a year ago, the Times announced in August that it had hired Thompson.

He was originally hailed as an executive who could boost the company’s fortunes in two key areas: digital expansion and worldwide growth. Lately, however, Thompson has been the subject of news stories and columns, such as the one on Oct. 29 by Times columnist Joe Nocera, which carried the headline: “The Right Man for the Job?” Nocera has essentially asked: What did Thompson know, and when did he know it? Read Nocera’s column at NYTimes.com.

Times critics are surely asking the media company the same question. And many will wonder whether the Times could have done more to vet the hiring of Thompson. If the scandal keeps growing, the Times may start getting questions as to whether Thompson can keep his job.

Perhaps the newsroom announcement for Thompson’s hiring was handled with more panache than Brauchli’s departure at the Post.  But the newspaper that hired Thompson as their leader of the future as the bottom fell out of the BBC has little room to criticize leadership changes at other news organizations, and any ire at hereditary publishing from that organization should be aimed within and not without.


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Bird cage liner insults fish wrap…awesomeness.

hillsoftx on November 19, 2012 at 8:04 AM

NYT attacking the leadership at the WaPo is like discussing virginity among whores.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

NYT attacking the leadership at the WaPo is like discussing virginity among whores.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Bravo . . . right on.

rplat on November 19, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Been quite a while since either of these sludge peddlers were relevent to me. Typically if I see a byline from the big MSM outlets I read it as taught by Brent Bozell.

Disregard unattributed quotes.
Look for what’s missing.
Know the liberal source for what he is.

They don’t report news. They push left. Always.

DanMan on November 19, 2012 at 8:18 AM

The New York Slimes and The Washington Compost, fishwrap of record and beltway blowhards, slugging it out in the race to the bottom. Might be sad, if it weren’t so funny.

College Prof on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 AM

But four years into her tenure at the top, she still seems to be struggling to get a grasp on a huge job at a company whose journalism has at times altered the course of a nation.

And the Times has the ‘nads to define “journalism” after their slanderous post about John McCain in 2008? That any liberal progressive could read the Times as their sacred bible to socialism, altering the course of the nation IS the Time’s mission statement, not informing its readership.

Rovin on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM

The NYT is too busy spiking stories to have time to criticize anyone else…

Or making them up for that matter… John McCain/lobbyist in 2008, anybody?

If I had a bird, they wouldn’t even qualify for cage liner… no thanks…

Khun Joe on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM

heh.

Fratricide.

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 AM

I hope these two derelict blobs eat each other’s young and then cease to exist. they deserve it.

HomeoftheBrave on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 AM

How “rich.” Oivey

CoffeeLover on November 19, 2012 at 8:34 AM

It is not what it once was,

Neither is the NYT’s. Go figure.

GarandFan on November 19, 2012 at 8:37 AM

This is like watching two Wrestling “heels” beat the stew out of each other. Pass the popcorn.

kingsjester on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Pravda vs TASS…

Caper29 on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Pravda vs TASS…

Caper29 on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Without the integrity. I wish I were kidding.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Hopefully Rupert Murdoch is circling around the NYT and the WaPo like a buzzard. :-)

Punchenko on November 19, 2012 at 8:44 AM

It’s been a long night, and I’m too drunk to read all of this now in detail, but based on a brief scan, please keep in mind:

BBC = Pravda.

It’s the UK’s state media.

WhatSlushfund on November 19, 2012 at 8:46 AM

The paper of record trashes the paper used mostly for paper mache.

excuse me while I LMAO

Slade73 on November 19, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

ROFFLMAO,great start to a monday.

docflash on November 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Print, and more ominously, digital advertising revenue is in decline, circulation is in a dive…

…AND I WANT THEM TO BOTH GO BELLY UP…!!!!
Bankrupt the MSM!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Pravda vs TASS…

Caper29 on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Without the integrity. I wish I were kidding.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 8:43 AM

At least you knew what you were getting with Pravda & TASS.

You don’t with the Bull Stream Media.

Galt2009 on November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Government bailout coming for these dying rags in 5….4…..3…

I saw at Starbucks yesterday that the Sunday edition of the NYT was $6.00.

Mammy and I just laughed.

Don’t even subscribe to newspaper. And frankly we don’t even look at newspaper sites ONLINE (unless it’s a link from another site). We’re on the iPad thingy now.

Won’t it be grand when they all get their bailouts in the name of “keeping the power of a free press, and speech” out there for the masses? It will be great to see the Progressives contorting themselves for the right for people to say what they want.

PappyD61 on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 AM

At least you knew what you were getting with Pravda & TASS.

You don’t with the Bull Stream Media.

Galt2009 on November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM

You know what you are getting with the NYT and WaPo too. The thing is that there is still the pretense that these are news organizations and not propaganda outlets for the Democrat party.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 AM

At least you knew what you were getting with Pravda & TASS.

You don’t with the Bull Stream Media.

Galt2009 on November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM

You know what you are getting with the NYT and WaPo too. The thing is that there is still the pretense that these are news organizations and not propaganda outlets for the Democrat party.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 AM

That pretense is wearing awfully thin – the only ones who believe that of the BSM any more are ‘Obama Voters’ – and that phrase explains why..

Galt2009 on November 19, 2012 at 9:07 AM

You know what you are getting with the NYT and WaPo too.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Obama cheerleaders

hopefully only the good looking reporters wear the short skirts

Slade73 on November 19, 2012 at 9:07 AM

nd her replacement, Mark Thompson, has come under scrutiny for serious problems he failed to notice in his previous job.

No. Covering up for someone who covered up over child sex abuse is still evil. It’s a crime where you do not get a pass.

rbj on November 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM

No. Covering up for someone who covered up over child sex abuse is still evil. It’s a crime where you do not get a pass.

rbj on November 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM

More than a few Penn State officials are figuring that one out the hard way.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 9:11 AM

No. Covering up for someone who covered up over child sex abuse is still evil. It’s a crime where you do not get a pass.

rbj on November 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Within ten years that won’t even be a crime anymore. Pederasty will be seen as the cutting edge of hipness. The NYT is just jumping the trend.

rockmom on November 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Bingo!

Many decades ago, GK Chesterton, in “Orthodoxy,” pointed out that newspapers were really just the playthings of the rich — not great bastions of free speech.

Pythagoras on November 19, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Hmmm!

Didn’t know government mouthpieces were allowed to criticize each other.

EdmundBurke247 on November 19, 2012 at 9:53 AM

They face significant competition from the New Media, clearly, but I’d contend that they face two much more serious problems:

Structural – they are carrying way to much weight and need to significantly downsize.

Content – have you ever tried to read the NYT or WaPo front to back for a week? Forget the fact that it is leftist, it always has been and will be until it folds. It is ENORMOUSLY BORING AND POMPOUS. To some extent news has to be entertaining. All news is biased, that is part of the human condition, but to work news also needs to produced in a way to capture attention. The Times and WaPo utterly fail to do this imho.

You can do leftist print journalism successfully (look at the Guardian in the UK, uh, ok maybe look at Le Monde in France instead). But these pompous azzhats do not undestand that the problems they face are their own.

Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom was very funny in its inadvertent highlighting of just how pompous and boring the professional media class can be in the US.

CorporatePiggy on November 19, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Hw mch balot $ wnt t spsdly indpt prs?

Maybe the corruption we see in the very very biased media is no accident.

Speakup on November 19, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Content – have you ever tried to read the NYT or WaPo front to back for a week? Forget the fact that it is leftist, it always has been and will be until it folds. It is ENORMOUSLY BORING AND POMPOUS. To some extent news has to be entertaining. All news is biased, that is part of the human condition, but to work news also needs to produced in a way to capture attention. The Times and WaPo utterly fail to do this imho.

CorporatePiggy on November 19, 2012 at 9:53 AM

It is also a shadow of its former self. Very little original content along with a lot of pooled reports, syndicated columnists, and filler. The big problem with the WaPo, anyway, is that their agenda is so biased that you either think the paper is wonderful or you can’t stand it.

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

The Washington Post and NYT needn’t worry about making bad management decisions. My liberal friends tell me the government will bail them out when they need help. After all (I’m told), “They’re American institutions that need to be preserved” and “without them, free expression will disappear.”

Burke on November 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

David Carr is the POS who smeared Andrew Breitbart after he died and went on Bill Maher’s show to spew profanity about middle America. That’s the face of today’s New York Times.

rrpjr on November 19, 2012 at 10:10 AM

…AND I WANT THEM TO BOTH GO BELLY UP…!!!!
Bankrupt the MSM!
KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 8:51 AM

All every single right side person has to do is not buy the LSM newspapers, magazine (look what happened to Newsweek), subscribe to any digital content…stop watching commercial television (it’s a pit anyway)at least for a couple of days a week and sit back and enjoy the fun!!!

sharinlite on November 19, 2012 at 10:44 AM

How long before WaPo returns the favor…I hope they feature that thug David Carr when they do.

d1carter on November 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM

the vast majority of the most important newspapers in the country

are leftist rags, pure mouthpieces for the DNC.

FIFY.

After all (I’m told), “They’re American institutions that need to be preserved” and “without them, free expression will disappear.”

Burke on November 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Free expression has already been regulated out of existence on college campuses. Not long for the rest of society methinks.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on November 19, 2012 at 10:55 AM

May both go under soon. May they suffocate from what they eat, Obama’s crap, not beluga caviar.

Schadenfreude on November 19, 2012 at 1:29 PM