Washington Post editors stay on message

April 23, 2008

Say what you will, but The Washington Post’s editors know how to get their stories straight before printing them. Here are the complete memos about Susan Glasser’s resignation as AME (Assistant Managing Editor) of the National section. Aside from Glasser’s use of the pronoun “I,” we would dare you to tell who wrote which.

Here’s Glasser:

A year and a half ago, I was named AME for this section, and we set off together in pursuit of an amazing set of stories, from the
earliest-starting, never-ending presidential primary camapign (sic) to the grinding war in Iraq in the twilight of the Bush era. It was a privilege and an honor to work with all of you on the tremendous coverage that ensued, all the more so because you have produced this courageous and innovative journalism at a time of great peril and handwringing over our business and our paper. And you’ve worked hard together to take on some of those challenges, whether by helping build a new political team for this most historic of elections, or taking our reporting and analysis online in important new ways or by helping taking part in a major redesign of the A section and significant reorganization of an editing system that had gone largely unchanged since the waning of the transitor (sic) radio. I’m leaving to work on a new project with [Washington Post Co CEO] Don Graham but will continue to watch what happens here with great admiration and support. Many many thanks to all of you.


Here’s Executive Editor Len Downie Jr and Managing Editor Phil Bennett:

After a year and a half as AME/National, Susan Glasser will be taking on an assignment working for Don Graham.

Susan has been a leader in spurring innovation in the national news report, especially in our political coverage, where she has introduced new forms of journalism and has helped make The Post a national leader in online coverage of the presidential campaign. She has been a prime mover of changes to make the A-section more dynamic and better organized.

As in her prior roles as Outlook editor, enterprise reporter and editor, and foreign correspondent, Susan has worked tirelessly to promote quality journalism in The Washington Post.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Bill Hamilton will direct the National staff while we select Susan’s replacement.

The capper may come from The New York Times , which probably doesn’t mind taking the time to spend a few paragraphs detailing its rivals’ woes instead of its own.

The Washington Post announced Tuesday that Susan B. Glasser, considered an up-and-coming star at the paper, had been removed from her job as an assistant managing editor in charge of national news. According to several people at The Post, it did so because of complaints and poor morale among Ms. Glasser’s subordinates.

For details of the shuffle, check out the City Paper’s tongue-in-cheek mea culpa on its earlier coverage of Glasser. It’s irony wrapped inside a mystery inside a sort-of correction.

Glasser was cast as a visionary with the brains to remake a paper in great need of fresh energy and ideas. Though this miserable piece of journalism discussed Glasser’s sharp-elbowed ways, it essentially sided with the view of the Post leadership-namely, that such is the price of progress. The money quote belonged to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Glasser’s deputy, who said, “Do we need to be shaken up a bit? Yeah, we do. The old sort of fat, happy, complacent days are over. We’re losing subscribers.”

That sentiment compromised the longevity of the story, which was marred by misplaced emphasis. Yes, Glasser is a smart newswoman, but she’s really distinguishing herself with bad management. Washington City Paper should have listened more closely to the various sources who cast her as a train wreck.

All in all, it’s the most ink we’ve seen spent on one top editor. Well, almost.

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