David Broder, sort of taking the Washington Post buyout

May 14, 2008

broder.jpgI spoke on Wednesday to David Broder, veteran political columnist at The Washington Post and a fixture at the paper for more than 40 years, about deciding to take the buyout that the paper is offering.

As it turned out, “taking the buyout” for Broder, 78, doesn’t mean “leaving” so much as “still writing my column twice a week and coming to work every day.” In other words, he will be a contract employee.

Q: Why leave a place that you joined before a goodly number of us were born:

A: It will allow me to focus entirely on the column while freeing up the Post to use its budget on other newsroom salaries and expenses.

(Tony Kornheiser, the well known Post sports columnist, told me much the same thing: They could probably find someone who would help the paper a lot more than me.)

Q: What do you think about the exit of Posties to The New York Times in the past few years? (Including Sewell Chan, Manny Fernandez and husband-and-wife team Serge Kovaleski and Jo Becker, not to mention Peter Baker who said he left after the paper relieved his wife Susan Glasser of her top editing slot. Oh… and Michael Powell, Ray Rivera, John Schwartz, Mark Leibovich and so on.)

A: I actually worked for 15 minutes at The New York Times, and I was part of the return traffic from the Times to the Post. The notion of moving from The Washington Post to The New York Times is, as far as I’m concerned, not a smart move.

Q: You left the Times in 1966. Why?

A: I fled because of bureaucracy I couldn’t cope with. … I resigned maybe 15 minutes before I would have been fired.

(Photo courtesy of The Washington Post Writers Group)

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The Post might help to save itself by improving its website instead of letting go of its better columnists. I read the NYT every morning before washingtonpost.com loads its headline. Which do you think gets more eyes?

R