The Washington Post

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The Washington Post
The Logo of The Washington Post.
The Washington Post front page (June 2, 2011).jpg
Front page for Thursday, June 2, 2011
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner The Washington Post Company
Publisher Katharine Weymouth
Editor Martin Baron
Staff writers approximately 740 journalists[1]
Founded 1877; 141 years ago (1877)
Headquarters 1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071
United States
Circulation 474,767 Daily
838,014 Sunday[2]
ISSN 0190-8286
Official website

The Washington Post (WP) is an American daily newspaper. It is the most widely circulated newspaper published in Washington, D.C., and oldest extant in the area, founded in 1877.

Located in the capital city of the United States, the newspaper has a particular emphasis on national politics. Daily editions are printed for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The newspaper is published as a broadsheet, with photographs printed both in color and in black and white. In 2008, Marcus Brauchli replaced long-time executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr., serving publisher Katharine Weymouth.[3] In November 2012, Weymouth announced that Boston Globe editor Martin Baron would take over Brauchli's position on January 2, 2013.[4][5]

In the early 1970s, in the best known episode in the recent history of The Post, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the American press's investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal; reporting in the newspaper greatly contributed to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In years since, its investigations have led to increased review of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[6] The newspaper is also known as the namesake of "The Washington Post March", which John Phillip Sousa composed in 1889 while he was leading the United States Marine Band;[7] it became the standard music to accompany the two-step, a late 19th-century dance craze.[8]

The newspaper has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes. This includes six separate Pulitzers awarded in 2008, the second-highest number ever given to a single newspaper in one year.[9] The Post has also received 18 Nieman Fellowships and 368 White House News Photographers Association awards, among others.

The newspaper is owned by The Washington Post Company, an education and media company that also owns Kaplan, Inc., and many media ventures besides The Post.


The Post is generally regarded as one of the leading daily American newspapers,[10] along with The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The Post has distinguished itself through its political reporting on the workings of the White House, Congress, and other aspects of the U.S. government.

Unlike the Times and the Journal, the Post does not print an edition for distribution away from the East Coast. In 2009, the newspaper ceased publication of its "National Weekly Edition", which combined stories from the week's print editions, due to shrinking circulation.[11] The majority of its newsprint readership is in District of Columbia and its suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.[12]

The newspaper's weekday and Saturday printings include the following sections:

  • Main section, containing the front page, national and international news, business, politics, and editorials and opinions
  • Metro section, containing local news
  • Style section, with feature writing on pop culture, politics, fine and performing arts, film, fashion, and gossip, along with advice columns and comics
  • Sports section
  • Classified advertising

Sunday editions largely include the weekday sections as well as Outlook (opinion), Arts, Travel, Comics, TV Week, and the Washington Post Magazine. The "Sunday Style" section differs slightly from the weekday Style section; it is in a tabloid format, and it houses the reader-written humor contest The Style Invitational.

Additional weekly sections appear on weekdays: Health & Science on Tuesday, Food on Wednesday, Local Living (home and garden) on Thursday, and Weekend, with details about upcoming events in the local area, on Friday. The latter two are in a tabloid format.

The Washington Post headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The newspaper is one of a few U.S. newspapers with foreign bureaus, located in Baghdad, Bogota, Cairo, Hong Kong, Islamabad, Jerusalem, Kabul, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, Paris, Shanghai, Tehran and Tokyo.[13] In November 2009, it announced the closure of its U.S. regional bureaus – Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – as part of an increased focus on "political stories and local news coverage in Washington."[14] The newspaper has local bureaus in Maryland (Annapolis, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland) and Virginia (Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Richmond, and Prince William County).[15]

As of September 2009, its average weekday circulation was 582,844, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, making it the fifth largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. 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.[16]

The newspaper is part of The Washington Post Company, a diversified education and media company that also owns educational services provider Kaplan, Inc., Post-Newsweek Stations, Cable One, the online magazine Slate, The Gazette and Southern Maryland Newspapers, and The Herald, a daily paper in Everett, Washington. The company also distributes the free daily Express newspaper in the D.C. area and runs its own syndication service for its columnists and cartoonists, The Washington Post Writers Group.[17] In 2011, the company ranked No 470 on the Fortune 500 annual list of America's largest corporations. It dropped off the list in 2012.[18][19]

The Post has its main office at 1150 15th St, N.W., and the newspaper has the exclusive ZIP code 20071.[20]


Founding and early period[edit]

Washington Post building in 1948

The newspaper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins (1838-1912) 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 newspaper to Frank Hatton, a former Postmaster General, and Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio. To promote the newspaper, 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. Sousa composed The Washington Post, which remains one of his best-known works. In 1899, during the Spanish–American War, The Post printed Clifford K. Berryman's classic illustration Remember the Maine, which became the battle-cry for American sailors during the War. In 1902, Berryman published another famous cartoon in The Post— "Drawing the Line in Mississippi." This cartoon depicts President Theodore Roosevelt showing compassion for a small bear cub and inspired New York store owner Morris Michtom to create the teddy bear.[21]

Wilkins acquired Hatton's share of the newspaper 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 John Roll McLean, owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. During the Wilson presidency, The Post was credited with the "most famous newspaper typo" in D.C. history according to Reason magazine; The Post intended to report that President Wilson had been "entertaining" his future-wife Mrs. Galt, but instead wrote that he had been "entering" Mrs. Galt.[22][23] When John McLean died in 1916, he put the newspaper 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 newspaper slumped toward ruin.

Meyer-Graham period[edit]

The newspaper was purchased in a bankruptcy auction in 1933 by a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors, Eugene Meyer, who restored the newspaper's health and reputation. In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law Philip Graham.

In 1954, the newspaper consolidated its position by acquiring and merging with its last morning rival, the Washington Times-Herald. (The combined paper would officially be named The Washington Post and Times-Herald until 1973, although the Times-Herald portion of the masthead became less and less prominent after the 1950s.) The merger left The Post with two remaining local competitors, the afternoon Washington Star (Evening Star) and The Washington Daily News, which merged in 1972 and folded in 1981. The Washington Times, established in 1982 by a subsidiary of the Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), has been a local conservative rival with a circulation (as of 2005) about one-seventh that of The Post.[24] In the late 2000s additional editorially conservative competition increased with the foundation of the tabloid "The Examiner" of Washington by the new owners of the old Hearst paper, the "San Francisco Examiner" who engineered a swap trading the larger, more prosperous "San Francisco Chronicle" for the former Hearst "flagship" paper. They also started several other tabloid "Examiners" in several American cities, including briefly for two years in "Baltimore Examiner" going against the 170 year old "Baltimore Sun".

The Monday, July 21, 1969, edition, with the headline "'The Eagle Has Landed' — Two Men Walk on the Moon."

After Phil Graham's death in 1963, control of The Washington Post Company passed to Katharine Graham (1917-2001), his wife and Meyer's daughter. Few women had run nationally prominent newspapers in the United States. Kay Graham described her own anxiety and lack of confidence based on her gender in her autobiography, and she did not assign duties to her daughter at the newspaper as she did to her son. 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 newspaper rise in national stature through effective investigative reporting, most notably to ensure that The New York Times did not surpass its Washington reporting of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate scandal. Executive editor Ben Bradlee put the newspaper'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 Posts dogged coverage of the story, the outcome of which ultimately played a major role in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, won the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

In 1972, the "Book World" section was introduced with Pulitzer Prize winning critic William McPherson as its first editor.[25] It featured Pulitzer Prize winning critics such as Jonathan Yardley and Michael Dirda, the latter of whom established his career as a critic at The Post. In 2009, after 37 years, with great reader outcries and protest, "The Washington Post Book World" as a standalone insert was discontinued, the last issue being Sunday, February 15, 2009, along with a general reorganization of the paper, such as placing the Sunday editorials on the back page of the main front section rthan the "Outlook" section and distributing some other locally-oriented "op-ed" letters and commentaries in other sections.[26] However, book reviews are still published in the Outlook section on Sundays and in the Style section the rest of the week, as well as online.[26]

In 1980, the newspaper published a dramatic story called "Jimmy's World",[27] 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 E. Graham, Katharine's son, succeeded her as publisher in 1979 and in the early 1990s became both chief executive officer and chairman of the board. He was succeeded in 2000 as publisher and CEO by Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., with Graham remaining as chairman.

Katharine Graham Weymouth now serves as publisher and chief executive officer.

Post-Graham period[edit]

In 1996, the newspaper established a website.[28]

In 2010, the newspaper cited its local focus as a reason for running its first-ever front page advertisement: the Capital One ad was being run to draw attention to the rebranding of Chevy Chase Bank, a bank Capital One bought in 2009. According to the Post's vice president of advertising, the page one advertisement is a "very local, useful-information-for-our-readers type of campaign."[29]

In 2013, the newspaper announced that it has plans to start charging frequent users of its website, with many exceptions (such as for government employees browsing from work, and for students browsing from school).[30][31] As of March 2013, pricing has not been determined yet.

Political stance[edit]

In the mid-1970s, conservatives called the newspaper "Pravda on the Potomac" due to its perceived left-wing bias in both reporting and editorials[32] (this characterization referred to the official newspaper of the Soviet communist party). Since then, the appellation has been used by both liberal and conservative critics of the newspaper.[33][34] In 1963, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly told President Lyndon B. Johnson, "I don't have much influence with The Post because I frankly don't read it. I view it like the Daily Worker."[35][36]

As Katharine Graham noted in her autobiography Personal History, the newspaper long had a policy of not making endorsements for political candidates. However, since at least 2000, the newspaper has occasionally endorsed Republican politicians, such as Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.[37] In 2006, it repeated its historic endorsements of every Republican incumbent for Congress in Northern Virginia.[38] There have also been times when The Post has specifically chosen not to endorse any candidate, such as in the 1988 presidential election when it refused to endorse then Governor Michael Dukakis or then Vice President George H.W. Bush.[39] On October 17, 2008, The Post endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States.[40] On October 25, 2012, the newspaper endorsed the re-election of Barack Obama.[41]

The newspaper's editorial positions on foreign policy and economic issues have seen a definitively conservative bent: it steadfastly supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, warmed to President George W. Bush's proposal to partially privatize Social Security, opposed a deadline for U.S. withdrawal from the Iraq War, and advocated free trade agreements, including CAFTA.[citation needed]

In "Buying the War" on PBS, Bill Moyers noted 27 editorials supporting George W. Bush's ambitions to invade Iraq. National security correspondent Walter Pincus reported that he had been ordered to cease his reports that were critical of Republican administrations.[42]

In 1992, the PBS investigative news program Frontline suggested that The Post had moved to the right in response to its smaller, more conservative rival The Washington Times, which is owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate owned by the Unification Church which also owns newspapers in South Korea, Japan, and South America. The program quoted Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative activist organization the Moral Majority, as saying "The Washington Post became very arrogant and they just decided that they would determine what was news and what wasn't news and they wouldn't cover a lot of things that went on. And The Washington Times has forced The Post to cover a lot of things that they wouldn't cover if the Times wasn't in existence."[43] In 2008, Thomas F. Roeser of the Chicago Daily Observer also mentioned competition from the Washington Times as a factor moving The Post to the right.[44]

On March 26, 2007, Chris Matthews said on his television program, "Well, The Washington Post is not the liberal newspaper it was, Congressman, let me tell you. I have been reading it for years and it is a neocon newspaper".[45] It has regularly published an ideological mixture of op-ed columnists, some of them left-leaning (including E.J. Dionne, Ezra Klein, Greg Sargent, and Eugene Robinson), and some on the right (including George Will, Marc Thiessen, Robert Kagan, Robert Samuelson, Michael Gerson and Charles Krauthammer).

In November 2007, the newspaper was criticized by independent journalist Robert Parry for reporting on anti-Obama chain e-mails without sufficiently emphasizing to its readers the false nature of the anonymous claims.[46] In 2009, Parry criticized the newspaper for its allegedly unfair reporting on liberal politicians, including Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama.[47]

In a November 16, 2008, column, The Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell stated: "I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo".[48] Responding to criticism of the newspaper's coverage during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Howell wrote: "The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It's not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected".[48] According to a 2009 publication, in the blogging community, liberal bloggers link to the Washington Post and New York Times more often than other major newspapers, however, conservative bloggers also link predominantly to liberal newspapers.[49]

Notable contributors (past and present)[edit]

Executive officers and editors (past and present)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. "Contact The Washington Post reporters, columnists and bloggers". The Washington Post. 
  2. "Total Circ for US Newspapers". Alliance for Audited Media. March 31, 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  3. Peters, Jeremy (February 11, 2012). "A Newspaper, And A Legacy, Reordered". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  4. Farhi, Paul (November 13, 2012). "Marcus Brauchli to step down as editor of The Washington Post". The Washington Post. 
  5. Haughney, Christine (November 13, 2012). "New Top Editor at Washington Post: Marcus Brauchli to Be Replaced by Martin Baron". 
  6. "Walter Reed and Beyond". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  7. 1889 from the newspaper's corporate history
  8. John Philip Sousa Collection from the website of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  9. Kurtz, Howard (April 8, 2008). "The Post Wins 6 Pulitzer Prizes". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  10. "Washington Post - daily newspaper in Washington DC, USA with local news and events". Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  11. "Post's National Weekly Edition to Close". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  12. "The Washington Post's Circulation and Reach". Washington Post Media. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  13. "Washington Post Foreign Bureaus". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  14. "Washington Post to close three regional bureaux". BBC News. November 25, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  15. "Washington Post Bureaus". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2009. [dead link]
  16. "Blog: Ranking of newspapers". Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  17. "The Washington Post Company: Company profile". The Washinton Post Company. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  18. Fortune 500, 2011 snapshots
  19. Fortune 500, 2012, Exits from the 500
  20. "ZIP Code 20071, Washington DC, U.S. ZIP Codes, Database - Washington District of Columbia DC Map". Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  21. "Clifford K. Berryman Cartoon Collection". Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, George Washington University.
  22. Freund, Charles Paul (July 2001). "D.C. Jewels: The closing of a historic shop is a triumph of meaning over means". Reason. Retrieved 5 November 2009. "...Mrs. Edith Galt, who became the second wife of Woodrow Wilson ... She also figures in the most famous newspaper typo in D.C. history. The Washington Post ... Intending to report that Wilson had been entertaining Mrs. Galt in a loge at the National, early editions instead printed that he was seen entering her there." 
  23. Weingarten, Gene (July 11, 2006). "Chatological Humor* (Updated 7.14.06)". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2009. "The Post said that the President spent the afternoon "entertaining" Mrs. Galt, but they dropped the "tain" in one edition. Wilson LOVED it." 
  24. "Times circulation climbs to buck trend". The Washington Times. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  25. Arana-Ward (then-deputy editor of "Book World"), Marie (June 1, 1997). "Views From Publisher's Row". The Washington Post. 
  26. a b Letter from the editor, The Washington Post, Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page BW02
  27. Cooke, Janet (September 28, 1980). "Jimmy's World". University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  28. Kurtz, Howard (July 7, 2008). "The Post's New Executive Editor Once Headed Wall Street Journal". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 7, 2008. 
  29. "Washington Post Front-Page Ad: A First, for Now". Editor & Publisher. September 14, 2010. Retrieved 22 May. 
  30. Steve Mufson. "The Washington Post to charge frequent users of its Web site". The Washington Post. [Registration may be required]
  31. Matthew Rocco. "Washington Post Plans to Charge Online Users". Fox Business. 
  32. Bartlett, Bruce (March 13, 2007). "Partisan Press Parity?". The Washington Times.
  33. Kirchick, James (February 18, 2009). "Pravda on the Potomac". The New Republic.
  34. William Greider, "Washington Post Warriors", The Nation, March 6, 2003.
  35. Beschloss, Michael (1997). Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963–1964. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 32. ISBN 0-684-80407-7. 
  36. Branch, Taylor (1999). Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–1965. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 180. ISBN 0-684-84809-0. 
  37. "Wrong Choice for Governor". The Washington Post. October 26, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  38. "For Congress in Virginia". The Washington Post. October 30, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  39. "Post Makes No Endorsement". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 2, 1988. 
  40. "Barack Obama for President". The Washington Post. October 17, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  41. "Washington Post endorsement: Four more years for President Obama". The Washington Post. October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012. 
  42. "Transcript: "Buying the War"". PBS. April 25, 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  43. "Frontline: The Resurrection Of Reverend Moon". January 21, 1992. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  44. Roeser, Thomas F. (August 18, 2008). "How the Liberal Media Stonewalled the Edwards". Chicago Daily Observer.
  45. "Hardball with Chris Matthews for March 23". MSNBC. March 26, 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  46. Robert Parry (November 29, 2007). "WPost Buys into Anti-Obama Bigotry". Consortium News. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  47. "Framing Obama – by the WPost". Robert Parry. Consortium News. March 19, 2009
  48. a b Howell, Deborah (November 16, 2008). "Remedying the Bias Perception". The Washington Post. 
  49. Richard Davis (2009). Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics. Oxford UP. p. 79. 
  50. "First Person Singular". The Washington Post. February 4, 2007. 
  51. "David Rankin Barbee: A biographical sketch". The David Rankin Barbee Papers. Georgetown University Libraries. Retrieved 22 May. "In 1928 he came to Washington, D.C. as a feature writer for the Washington Post. His column Profiles earned a large and loyal audience." 

External links[edit]