Announcement from Executive Editor Martin Baron and Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz:
Director of Graphics Kat Downs, one of the newsroom’s most transformative leaders over the past five years, has accepted an offer to join the engineering department as a Director of Product. Kat’s passion, creativity and determination fueled her spectacular rise. She built a world-renowned graphics department, redefining digital storytelling in our newsroom and inspiring similar innovation in newsrooms elsewhere.
Kat’s eagerness to try new approaches led to one of her greatest successes: the creation of a specialized digital story team that combined reporting, design, engineering and informational graphics to create stunning experiences. Kat had a hand in most of our best digitally-oriented narratives, including Raising Barriers, which last year won a gold medal from the Society for News Design.
With an exceptional eye for talent, Kat has consistently recruited, mentored and developed some of the profession’s brightest stars. The graphics team has won hundreds of national and international awards under her leadership, along with the admiration of both print and digital readers. In 2016 Kat finally conquered one of the newsroom’s most vexing challenges when she successfully built an election results presentation that performed flawlessly.
We are delighted to say that in her new role Kat will remain a critical part of our operation. Kat will be leading the product teams focused on two critical areas: engagement and subscriptions. She will be responsible for leading the development and direction of the road map for washingtonpost.com, classic and rainbow apps, newsletters, video, story tools and subscriptions. She will be leading a talented team of product managers and designers working closely with the newsroom, engineering directors, advertising and marketing. Kat will report directly to Scot Gillespie, CTO. Some of her strongest efforts in the newsroom, like Chartable and election results, were due to her ability to work collaboratively with many departments.
Kat came to The Post in March 2008 from the Baltimore Sun to work as a news designer and developer for washingtonpost.com. After the merger of the separate online operation with The Post’s newsroom, Kat joined the graphics team as an information designer. She was promoted to Innovations Editor for Graphics in 2010 and a year later moved into a specially created position, Interactive Projects Editor, working across newsroom departments to create visual storytelling packages. In 2012, she moved back to the graphics department to be its deputy, managing the digital team and expanding its portfolio, including the shift to mobile. Eight months later, she took over the department.
Kat also has taught visual journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School and at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.
In addition to Kat’s move, Joey Marburger will take on a new role focused on long-term product innovation. He will continue to work closely with the Product teams and the newsroom to collaborate on new initiatives.