By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Jim Brady is stepping down as executive editor of washingtonpost.com after four years, the latest in a series of management changes at the top of a media company trying to revamp its operations to meet the needs of the digital age.
As top editor of the Web site, Brady helped the Washington Post bring its journalism online through video, blogs, discussions, interactive graphics and other features. Traffic to the site increased from 7 million to 13 million unique monthly visitors during his tenure, becoming the second-most-visited newspaper site.
The move comes as the Post looks to integrate its print and online newsrooms. The online newsroom, located in Arlington, and the print newsroom, located in downtown D.C., were for many years separate units. The newsrooms had different cultures and reported independently to the company's top management.
Earlier this year, executives and editors concluded that bringing the units together would foster closer collaboration between the newspaper and the Web site. The units were merged into Washington Post Media, which is run by new publisher Katharine Weymouth.
Weymouth tapped former Wall Street Journal editor Marcus Brauchli as executive editor of the Post, with responsibility for the Web site and newspaper. That put a layer of editorial control above Brady. Questions remain about how else the newsrooms will merge apart from the most senior positions.
In an interview yesterday, Brady said he agreed with the new strategy but that separate newsrooms had made sense. "There was a nice checks-and-balances where we could push the paper into things they wouldn't have done on their own," he said.
"As we look at bringing the newsrooms together, I think everybody's role is going to change, including mine," he added. "Some of the independence I've had before is going to go away in an integrated newsroom."
Brady said this new role didn't fit him perfectly and he felt, after some time off, he wanted to look for other Internet opportunities inside or outside journalism.
Brady's resignation will take effect after the presidential inauguration, and Brauchli said he hopes to name a replacement by that time. Brauchli said Brady's decision to leave was a loss but that an ongoing review about how the Web site can best serve its readers through high-quality journalism, strong navigation and a lively Web site aimed at readers who care about Washington would continue.
"Not having his knowledge and expertise will make this process a little more complicated," Brauchli said. "But we should be fine."
In a message yesterday to the staff, Brauchli wrote, "Just about everyone at washingtonpost.com owes his or her start or hiring or inspiration to Jim. He's lured dozens of print journalists into the online world, too, and repeatedly turned pen-and-ink talent into pixel-and-byte genius."
Under Brady, the Web site has won many awards, including an Emmy Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and a Peabody Award for its "Being a Black Man" series. It was one of the first newspaper Web sites to feature blogs.
Brady was named executive editor of washingtonpost.com in November 2004. He started at the Web site in 1995 as sports editor and also served as assistant managing editor for news. He spent several years at America Online before returning to washingtonpost.com. Brady spent the first part of his career as a sportswriter for the Post.