The Washington Post
is closing its remaining U.S. news bureaus in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but will retain the six reporters from those bureaus and recall them to Washington.
The paper’s spokesperson, Kris Coratti, confirmed the closures Tuesday. Three news aides, one per each bureau, will be cut.
"These changes are part of The Post’s long-term strategy to focus our resources on covering Washington as a place to live and its impact on the nation and the world," Coratti wrote in an email to TheWrap. "The Post will continue to cover national news of interest to our core audiences, as we have done for decades, by sending reporters from Washington. Our editorial interest in politics, policy and trend stories from around the country remains high."
The journalists affected are Keith Richburg, Barton Gellman and Tomoeh Murakami Tse in New York; Peter Slevin in Chicago, and Karl Vick and television columnist Lisa deMoraes in Los Angeles.
"I was completely surprised," New York Bureau Chief Kevin Richburg told TheWrap. "I’m in Beijing and I just got the call thirty minutes ago. My head is reeling, I was just waking up."
Richburg said that he and the other bureau chiefs had been led to believe that their stations were safe after a meeting with the paper’s editors in Washington last February. That belief was seemingly confirmed when the Post agreed to allow the New York bureau to move from its longtime offices near Columbus Circle to a new space on the corner of Hudson and Houston streets last June.
"Mostly, I’m worried about the news aides," Richburg added. "We’ll be fine. Myself and the other bureau chiefs have a combined 60 to 70 years of experience. Of course, in this day and age, there are no guarantees that anyone will be fine."
Richburg said he wasn’t sure how the Post would compensate for the bureau’s closure.
"I don’t know how they plan to cover Wall Street from Washington," Richburg said.
The Post once maintained bureaus in most major American cities, but it has been slowly shuttering such outposts. Over the last ten years, it has also closed bureaus in Austin, Denver and Miami. The closures mean that the Post will only maintain international bureaus going forward. Currently, the paper has foreign bureaus in London, Jerusalem, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Kabul, New Delhi, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Baghdad, Berlin and Rio, Tokyo, and Paris.
The Post has gone through several rounds of cost-saving measures in the past year, eliminating its national weekly edition in August and folding the business section into the front page in March. It also announced in January that it would share some content with the Baltimore Sun.
Read the full memo from management to Post staff below:
To the Staff:
Today we have informed our news colleagues in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles that we are closing the offices in those cities, effective Dec. 31. The reporters in those bureaus are being offered new roles here in Washington. Regretfully, the three news aides, who have been dedicated colleagues and are friends of many here, will be let go.
At a time of limited resources and increased competitive pressure, it’s necessary to concentrate our journalistic firepower on our central mission of covering Washington and the news, trends and ideas that shape both the region and the country’s politics, policies and government.
We will continue to cover events around the country as we have for decades, by sending reporters into the field. We have a strong tradition of bringing understanding and authority to our coverage of politics and issues that
matter, wherever the stories take us. The evidence is visible daily in The Post: our deeply reported narrative series on the human consequences of the economic downturn; our insightful coverage of the healthcare debate, from the efficient hallways of the Mayo Clinic to the raucous townhalls of last August; even the ongoing coverage of the Ft. Hood shootings or the impending 2010 midterm campaigns.
Our commitment to national news of interest to our readers is undiminished, and we will maintain the level and caliber of coverage our readers expect.
Marcus Liz Raju