DOWNLOAD“Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web” (PDF format, 0.2 MB)

The Washington Post and its dot-com operation have always had a tricky relationship. Newsroom staffers always complain that their stuff doesn’t get good enough play on the site. Dot-commers reply that the newsies don’t really get the Web. The bitching—-er, dialogue—-volleys back and forth between Post HQ at 15th and L and the HQ in Arlington.

No wonder they need to print a roadmap to handling their relationship!

Memo and “Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web” after the jump.

July 5, 2007

To: Newsroom Staff
From: Len Downie and Phil Bennett

In a recent series of discussions with senior editors, we have worked out a strategy for furthering our collaboration with to maximize the readership and impact of Washington Post journalism on the Web. We wanted to develop and prioritize the most promising aspects of our partnership, address bottlenecks in our relationship and create the 2.0 version of the newsroom’s role in what is already one of the most successful journalism sites on the Web.

We have produced “Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web” to guide the newsroom in this endeavor, a copy of which accompanies this memo.

These principles emphasize our commitment on the Web to around-the-clock breaking news, scoops and original Washington Post added-value journalism, in addition to multimedia and interactivity. They embody the same standards and values for our journalism on the Web as the printed newspaper. And they commit us to flexibility and change in newsroom structure and forms of journalism to adapt to the rhythms and opportunities of the Web.

The collaboration between the newspaper and on breaking news like the Virginia Tech shootings, coverage areas such as politics, the Nationals and the Redskins, and projects like Cheney, Walter Reed, Washington schools and the award-winning Being a Black Man exemplify our strategy. The principles spell out that strategy, leaving room for interpretation and adaptation as journalistic opportunities and challenges arise.

We have designated editors on Metro, National, Foreign, Financial, Style and Sports who will focus daily on journalism for the Web, working with the Continuous News Desk. They and all other assignment editors will go through a program of training in Web journalism. We will continue training for interested reporters and photographers in video for the Web.

Len, Phil, Jim Brady and Liz Spayd will work with committees of participants from the newsroom and on four specific areas in which we want to deepen our collaboration: local breaking news, graphics, arts and entertainment, and interactivity, including blogs, chats and hosted discussions. This is in addition to ongoing development of our collaboration on politics, photography, public opinion and sports, among other subjects, and the launch of on the Web and an enhanced Loudoun Extra in the newspaper.

We will also inaugurate a Day Copy Desk, led by Don Podesta, that will copy edit live journalism for the Web as well as projects and enterprise destined to appear first in the newspaper.

We must continue to evolve the content and forms of journalism that we publish in the printed newspaper, partly in response to and inspired by journalistic evolution on the Web. We remain committed to strengthening the readership of The Washington Post in print while growing the audience of on the Web.

We’ve already made many changes in the paper this year, including the renovation and relaunch of the Health, Food and Home sections. There is more to come, including the debut of a new Style and Arts section in the Sunday paper.

In our discussions, we also took notice of a gap in readership of the newspaper between men and women with children at home; our research has found that readership among women with children is significantly lower. We are forming a committee to study the research, assess our content and make recommendations. Volunteers and thoughts about this are welcome.


Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web

  1. The Washington Post is an online source of local, national and international news and information. We serve local, national and international audiences on the Web.
  2. We will be prepared to publish Washington Post journalism online 24/7. Web users expect to see news as it happens. If they do not find it on our site they will go elsewhere.
  3. We will publish most scoops and other exclusives when they are ready, which often will be online.
  4. The originality and added value of Post journalism distinguishes us on the Web. We will emphasize enterprise, analysis, criticism and investigations in our online journalism.
  5. Post journalism published online has the same value as journalism published in the newspaper. We embrace chats, blogs and multimedia presentations as contributions to our journalism.
  6. Accuracy, fairness and transparency are as important online as on the printed page. Post journalism in either medium should meet those standards.
  7. We recognize and support the central role of opinion, personality and reader-generated content on the Web. But reporters and editors should not express personal opinions unless they would be allowed in the newspaper, such as in criticism or columns.
  8. The newsroom will respond to the rhythms of the Web as ably and responsibly as we do to the rhythms of the printed newspaper. Our deadline schedules, newsroom structures and forms of journalism will evolve to meet the possibilities of the Web.
  9. Newsroom employees will receive training appropriate to their roles in producing online journalism.
  10. Publishing our journalism on the Web should make us more open to change what we publish in the printed newspaper. There is no meaningful division at The Post between “old media” and “new media.”