In a brief address, top Boston Globe editor Martin Baron introduced himself today to the Washington Post newsroom that he’ll helm as of early January. Standing in the middle of The Post’s fifth floor, Baron expressed delight at receiving his Post ID card and hit all the right notes about the paper’s history, saying that it has played a ”defining role in American journalism.”
Baron, however, was careful not to dwell too long on encomiums. He told the assembled journos that they could well be “forgiven for feeling unsettled,” in part because of dramatic changes in the business. It was here that Baron summoned optimism stemming from not one, not two, but three “Rs”:
1) Realists: As Baron has said in recent interviews, journalists “have to be realists.” That imperative, too, applies to their work and to the business environment in which they toil.
One man’s interpretation: Realism means not freaking out when the next newsroom-shrinking initiative comes over the e-mail wire.
2) Resilient: Newspapers, said Baron, have done fabulous work despite all the upheaval of recent years. “It’s amazing that we’ve done as well as we have,” he said, in one of several invocations of the term “amazing” in his short remarks.
3) Resolute: Here, Baron spoke of overcoming “obstacles,” raising questions as to how the third “R” was distinct from the second one. Well, he’s a journalist — he’s gotta have three.
Baron took a question from Post staffer Valerie Strauss about whether he was going to run off a Post fiscal cliff; would he make cuts immediately? Noncommittality spilled forth, as Baron said, “We’ll have to see.” There’s no way he could promise anything at this point, and he counseled the staff that even if he did, “you shouldn’t believe such a promise.”
The Post’s competitors, he said, are “100 percent focused on the future, and they love it when we focus on the past.”