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Herewith the text of a note from WaPo Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. to his colleagues. And he’s right: It has been a monster of a year for the Post.
As the year moves to an end, culminating in holiday and prize seasons, it’s a good time, with all the challenging changes in the newsroom and the rest of the media, to thank all of you for a wonderful year of extraordinary journalism. Among many accomplishments of note: high-impact investigation of the mistreatment of wounded Iraq veterans at Walter Reed (with powerful photography), the coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, the D. C. schools project (with more coming later this month), investigations of the conduct and costs of private contractors in Iraq before and after the Blackwater shootings, the explanatory IED series, the Baghad bureau’s courageous and authoritative coverage of the surge and its impact, well-focused coverage of the lives and impact of new immigrants in the Washington area, the revealing series about Dick Cheney’s role as vice president, the investigation of the Smithsonian’s spending and personnel practices, insightful chronicling of the first year of the Democratic majority in Congress and the penultimate year of the Bush presidency, thorough and notably enterprising coverage of the presidential election campaign (including the Candidates’ Week profile packages), lively coverage of major changes in DC, Maryland and Virginia politics and government, revelations of conflicts of interest within the political leadership of Loudoun County, the fascinating exploration of why people compete (with more great photography), year-long revelatory coverage of performance-enhancement drug use in sports, year-long coverage of the sub-prime mortgage leading debacle, the joint investigation with 60 Minutes of convictions based on discredited FBI chemical analysis evidence, aggressive coverage of the D. C. real estate tax rebate scam, a long list of outstanding feature writing and columns (including Washington Sketch) in all sections of the paper, consistently strong arts and cultural criticism in Style, and signficant progress in coverage of climate change locally, nationally and internationally. Innovative journalistic forms like The Trail are appearing throughout the newspaper. Health, Food, Home, Book World and Weekend have all been improved for special interest readers. Innovative graphics and page design have given the print paper more visual impact. Most people in the newsroom are making signficant contributions to washingtonpost.com, from breaking news files, blogs, chats, photo galleries and videos to major multi-media projects. Everyone has put in extra effort to make the print paper and the web site — and the cooperation between them — better and better every day. The new year will bring more journalistic challenges and even more changes in how we produce and present our journalism. I’m confident it will result in still more work of which will be justifiably proud. I thank you all again. And, with special appreciation for colleagues who will be spending this season away from home, whether in Iraq or Iowa, I wish you very happy and healthy holidays.