Well, that was fast. Washington Post Managing Editor John Temple is leaving the paper after less than a year in the position, according to a newsroom memo sent out this afternoon.
Temple, whose latest portfolio has included the paper’s digital efforts, was hired in March 2012 from Honolulu Civil Beat after previously working as editor of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. In his memo, Executive Editor Marty Baron praises Temple for helping him get started at the Post.
“The only disappointment came in recent days when John told me he was restless to try his hand at something new,” Baron writes. “He now wants to immerse himself in surveying the opportunities.”
Temple’s last day will be on March 22. There’s no mention in the memo of where he’s headed next. Just last month, the Post shuffled Temple’s assignments after promoting National editor Kevin Merida to the other managing editor position.
Baron’s full memo:
From the moment it was announced that I would be joining The Washington Post, John Temple reached out to offer assistance in any way possible. And, sure enough, he helped in countless invaluable ways. I could not have asked for a more generous, amiable, and energetic partner.
The only disappointment came in recent days when John told me he was restless to try his hand at something new. He now wants to immerse himself in surveying the opportunities. So he’ll finish up a few important projects and make Friday, March 22, his final day in our newsroom.
John has told me how much pride he takes in what The Post has been able to accomplish as a team since his arrival. With good reason.
John came to the Post as managing editor to oversee the departments that predominantly serve the local audience and to act as the newsroom’s senior digital editor. Shortly after he arrived, he also assumed responsibility for newsroom budgeting and other operational issues, such as disaster response, and was asked to work on the Post’s executive strategic team. This year his role was shifted to oversight of digital, operations, administration, production and visual departments, such as photo and design.
Over the past year, the newsroom has made huge strides in collaboration with the tech department, with embedded developers now working side by side with journalists in the newsroom and Methode engineers working directly with editors and reporters to improve the publishing system. The newsroom added a second publishing system, WordPress, to speed up blogs and make them more engaging. We also launched a fast mweb site that has been a big success and are preparing to launch a new iPad app that we expect to be well received by readers.
John has promoted a spirit of innovation, insisting on both excellence and speed. New features on our site included Say What and The Grid for the election. Live blogging became standard practice for major news and sports events.
During the Newtown shootings, the newsroom produced a special report, Remembering the Victims, which was recently honored by the Society for News Design with a silver medal. An investigative report on homicides in DC included an interactive database that made the project more accessible to readers and earned an SND gold medal.
You could see concrete results of the innovation that John led and inspired. Traffic to WashingtonPost.com on election day last year attracted nearly twice as many visitors as in 2008. Under John, The Post’s web site moved quickly to offer a richer social experience to readers, especially with improvements to commenting. And video now plays a far more prominent role, setting the stage for the launch later this year of a new online political channel.
At the same time, Post journalists serving the local audience have produced superior journalism, including an investigation that revealed serious problems in the District’s tax office and exposed a lack of openness in the operations of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
Gracious as always, John makes a point of noting that none of this would have materialized without the collaboration of a creative, committed newsroom and technology team.
We intend to fill John’s position, conducting a search that will include candidates from within the organization as well as those outside. We’ll move as quickly as possible. Until the position is filled, I will assume John’s responsibilities.
I am so grateful for the months John and I worked together, and I know that you share my deep regret that he will not be a member of our newsroom for many months to come. Please wish him well.
John has expressed a desire to “go quietly,” but I don’t think we’ll grant him that wish.