“The common complaint is that the [Washington] Post is lowering its standards—‘cheapening its brand’ is the vogue-ish term. But [editor Marcus] Brauchli says a photo gallery on ‘a B-list celebrity’ doesn't compromise the serious and substantial work the Post does, [and] galleries and the like help keep traffic and advertising flowing so that the paper can concentrate its real journalistic firepower on important things.
“Of greater concern, perhaps, is how the Post plays the traffic game with breaking news. The paper’s working assumption is that it cannot be left behind on any story of importance. Readers do want the latest, and they’ll find it somewhere else if the Post doesn’t give it to them.
“But this is where things can get really sticky. ‘Getting something up’ on a breaking story can be risky. It usually means reporting fragments of the story. Worse, it increases the chances that a story will be inaccurate. Brauchli is adamant about this point: ‘We have no tolerance for getting things wrong.... Our market positioning, as it were, is being right. [We’re] the place you can count on for factual reporting.’”
—Paul Farhi, columnist (and Washington Post contributing writer),
“Traffic Problems,” American Journalism Review, September 2010
• Editorial Comment: When you’re right, you’re right.
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