The Washington Post

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<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">
The September 23, 2005 front page of
The Washington Post</td></tr> <tr><th>Editor</th><td>Leonard Downie, Jr.</td></tr>
TypeDaily newspaper

OwnerWashington Post Company
Headquarters1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071
United States


The Washington Post is the largest newspaper in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It is also one of the city's oldest papers, having been founded in 1877.

Although the paper has a substantial history, it became perhaps most notable when, in the early 1970s, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein spearheaded the media's investigation of Watergate. The reporters, and the paper, played a major role in the undoing of the Nixon presidency.


[edit] General overview

The Post is generally regarded among the leading daily American newspapers along with The New York Times, which is known for its general reporting and international coverage, The Wall Street Journal, which is known for its financial reporting, and the Los Angeles Times. The Post, unsurprisingly, has distinguished itself through its reporting on the workings of the White House, Congress, and other aspects of the U.S. government.

Unlike the Times and the Journal, however, it sees itself as a regional newspaper, and does not currently print a daily national edition for distribution away from the East Coast. However, a "National Weekly Edition", combining stories from a week of Post editions, is published. [1] The majority of its newsprint readership is in the District of Columbia, as well as in the suburbs of Maryland and Northern Virginia.

As of October 2006, its average weekday circulation was 656,297 and its Sunday circulation was 930,619, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, making it the sixth largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the New York Post. While its circulation, like that of almost all newspapers, has been slipping, it has one of the highest market-penetration rates of any metropolitan news daily.

[edit] History

The paper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins and in 1880 added a Sunday edition, thus becoming the city's first newspaper to publish seven days a week. In 1889, Hutchins sold the paper to Frank Hatton, a former Postmaster General, and Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio. To promote the paper, the new owners requested the leader of the Marine Band, John Philip Sousa, to compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. The Washington Post endures today as a Sousa classic and is credited to have brought the once modest newspaper to worldwide fame.[citation needed] In 1899, during the Spanish-American War, the Post printed Clifford K. Berryman's classic illustration Remember the Maine.

Wilkins acquired Hatton's share of the paper in 1894 at Hatton's death. After Wilkins death in 1903, his sons John and Robert ran the Post for two years before selling it in 1905 to Washington McLean and his son John Roll McLean, owners of the Cincinnati Enquirer. When John died in 1916, he put the paper in trust, having little faith that his playboy son Edward "Ned" McLean could manage his inheritance. Ned went to court and broke the trust, but, under his management, the paper slumped toward ruin. It was purchased in a bankruptcy auction in 1933 by a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors, Eugene Meyer, who restored the paper's health and reputation. In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law Philip Graham.

In 1954, the Post consolidated its position by acquiring its last morning rival, the Washington Times-Herald, leaving as its remaining competitors two afternoon papers, the Washington Star (Evening Star) (until that paper's demise in 1981) and The Washington Daily News, which was bought and merged into the Star in 1972. More recently, the Washington Times, established in 1982, has been a local rival offering a conservative view, with a circulation (in 2005) about one-seventh that of the Post.[2]

After Graham's death, in 1963, control of the Washington Post Company passed to Katharine Graham, his wife and Meyer's daughter. No woman before had ever run a nationally prominent newspaper in the United States. She served as publisher from 1969 to 1979 and headed the Washington Post Company into the early 1990s as chairman of the board and CEO. After 1993, she retained a position as chairman of the executive committee until her death in 2001.

Her tenure is credited with seeing the Post rise in national stature through risk-taking and effective investigative reporting, most notably of the Watergate scandal. Executive editor Ben Bradlee put the paper's reputation and resources behind reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who, in a long series of articles, chipped away at the story behind the 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington. The Post's dogged coverage of the story, the outcome of which ultimately played a major role in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, won the paper a Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

In 1980, the Post published a dramatic story called 'Jimmy's World', describing the life of an eight-year-old heroin addict in Washington, for which reporter Janet Cooke won acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize. Subsequent investigation, however, revealed the story to be a fabrication. The Pulitzer Prize was returned.

Donald Graham, Katherine's son, succeeded her as publisher in 1979 and in the early 1990s became chief executive officer and chairman of the board, as well. He was succeeded in 2000 as publisher and CEO by Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., with Graham remaining as chairman.

Like The New York Times, the Post was slow in moving to color photographs and features. On January 28, 1999 its first color front-page photograph appeared. After that, color slowly integrated itself into other photographs and advertising throughout the paper.

The newspaper established a Web site in 1996,

As of 2006 the Post had been honored with 22 Pulitzer Prizes, 18 Nieman Fellowships, and 368 White House News Photographers Association Awards, among others.

It is part of The Washington Post Company, which owns a number of other media and non-media companies, including Newsweek magazine, the online magazine Slate, and the Kaplan test preparation service.

The Post has its main office at 1150 15th St, N.W., and the newspaper has the exclusive zip code 20071.

[edit] Political leanings

The Post takes the position that its news coverage is politically neutral or strives to be. Conservatives, however, often cite the Post, along with The New York Times, as exemplars of "liberal media bias." Some liberals, on the other hand, view the Post as "culturally and politically conservative" [3] and supportive of the Washington Establishment and the status quo.

[edit] Ombudsman

In 1970 the Post became one of the first newspapers in the United States to establish a position of "ombudsman," or readers' representative, assigned to address reader complaints about Post news coverage and to monitor the newspaper's adherence to its own standards. Ever since, the ombudsman's commentary has been a frequent feature of the Post editorial page.

One occasion that provoked the ombudsman's criticism came in 1981, when the embarrassment of Janet Cooke's fabricated story, "Jimmy's World" led Post ombudsman Bill Green to conclude that "[t]he scramble for journalistic prizes is poisonous. The obligation is to inform readers, not to collect frameable certificates, however prestigious. Maybe the Post should consider not entering contests."[6]

In 1986, Post news coverage was dismissive of a controversial series of articles, by journalist Gary Webb, that had appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, alleging that the CIA knowingly allowed CIA-financed Contra guerrillas in Central America to traffic in crack cocaine in order to raise funds for arms. The Washington Post's ombudsman, who was then Geneva Overholser, agreed with critics that the Post showed "misdirected zeal" and "more passion for sniffing out the flaws in San Jose's answer than for sniffing out a better answer [ourselves]."[7] Noting that there was "strong previous evidence that the CIA at least chose to overlook contra involvement in the drug trade," she added, "Would that we had welcomed the surge of public interest as an occasion to return to a subject the Post and the public had given short shrift. Alas, dismissing someone else's story as old news comes more naturally."

[edit] Notable contributors

[edit] Executive Officers and Editors - Past and Present

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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