By: Joe Strupp
Marcus Brauchli, whose appointment as the new executive editor of The Washington Post had been rumored for days, was officially named top editor late Monday, the Post reported on its Web site.
In a story posted Monday afternoon, the paper stated that Brauchli will take the job soon to be vacated by Leonard Downie Jr. He also will oversee the paper’s Web site. Downie will step down on Sept. 8.
“It’s both a privilege and possibly the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done to think about coming into an institution with such deep and proud traditions as The Post,” Brauchli said in a story on the Post site. “It’s going to be a challenge, obviously, to adjust to a new culture. … I’m anticipating having to go through a steep learning curve at hyperspeed.”
For Brauchli, the move marks the second time in less than a year he has overseen a major daily, having served as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal from May 2007 until just three months ago.
“When the handoff occurs Sept. 8, Brauchli will become only the third person in that position since Ben Bradlee was given the job in 1968 and the first from outside the corporation since shortly after Weymouth’s great-grandfather, Eugene Meyer, bought the paper in a bankruptcy sale in 1933,” the Post reported. “In choosing the 47-year-old Brauchli, Weymouth completes a generational shift. Downie, 66, had been named by her uncle, Donald Graham, 63, The Post Co.’s chief executive, when he was publisher.”
Weymouth called Brauchli “a strong and visionary leader” who is “smart and able” and “places the same emphasis on quality and accountability journalism as we do. … I have found him to be a straight shooter and a good listener.”
The Post added: “In reaching beyond the company for a new leader, Weymouth, who became publisher in February, signaled that she wanted to shake up the existing order and speed an eventual merger with the paper’s separately managed Web site. Brauchli combined the print and online newsrooms during his year-long tenure in charge of the Journal, and Weymouth put him in charge of both operations at The Post.”
Despite The Post’s culture of “promoting from within,” Weymouth said, “I thought that we could benefit from someone who would come in and look at what we do with fresh eyes.”
Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett, who was also a contender for the top job, has made no decision about the future but Weymouth has encouraged him to continue in that role.
A New York Times report on the hiring quoted former top editor Ben Bradlee: ?I don?t think it?s a case of her wanting to shake the place up as much as her having to. She feels the urgency to change and adapt, and thank heaven.?
The Post article on the move reported the views of two former Journal staffers about Brauchli.
Paul Steiger, Brauchli’s predecessor as the Journal editor, praised hisrange of experience, “having done everything from very heavy financial and economic and market stories to the most swashbuckling, Banana Republic foreign correspondence. He relates well to people and he learns fast.”
John Harwood, the former Journal reporter now with CNBC, said Brauchli “is incredibly bright and able and someone who has a real sense of what the right news agenda ought to be,” but he also cited Brauchli’s lack of experience in the nation’s capital: “I’m sure people will be watching to see how quickly he gets the political story, the Washington story, both nationally and locally.”