Washingtonpost.com will soon be looking for a new executive editor, following today’s announcement that Jim Brady will soon be leaving that post. Then again, it may not be looking to fill the slot. Over the next year—or perhaps even the next six months—the Washington Post’s newsroom and the Arlington offices of washingtonpost.com will merge, and a stand-alone digital chief may not be part of the new power structure.
Says Brady on the question of whether his position will live: “I don’t know the answer to that.” As to why he’s leaving, well, the merger is unquestionably a big part of it. Brady has been executive editor of washingtonpost.com for four years—a full Olympic cycle that Brady has spent on nearly equal footing with the big boss of the main newsroom. For most of Brady’s tenure, that’s been Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. Last year at this time, in fact, Brady was lording it all over the print guys, in a fight relating to the Post‘s coverage of national politics.
The newsroom had hired away washingtonpost.com‘s congressional blogger, Paul Kane, and was hoping that it could transfer Kane’s slot to the newsroom as well—meaning that the print operation would essentially be taking a slot from dot-com. Brady said no dice—we’ll be hiring our own congressional blogger.
In addition to turf battles of that sort, Brady has had the authority to ram important changes down the know-it-all throats of newsroom people. For instance, reporters at the Post once objected to allowing the posting of comments and to other initiatives now considered de rigueur for a newspaper’s Web site.
“The battles that at times played out between the newspaper and the web site—how they play out is going to change,” says Brady.
Indeed, and in a way that probably wouldn’t have pleased Brady. Publisher Katharine Weymouth made it very clear when she hired Marcus Brauchli last summer: This fellow will control both the print and online operations.
“The job was going to change,” says Brady, who had no great interest in moving into D.C. “I want to be on the digital side.”
The dot-com chief also says he’s needs a serious rebooting. “I have a track record,” he says, of staying about four or five years at a job and then burning out. “I’m beat up, tired, burned out.”
OK, but did Weymouth or anyone else hint that it was time for Brady to go? No way, he says: “My call.”