Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Downie's departure, minute by minute.

6:25: Looks like Weymouth thinks she erred. She sent out the following note to staffers after we noted her error below:
Sorry for the typo in the last version -- Len has been here for 44 years, not 24.
Says one Postie in reaction: "See, this is what happens when you buy out all those copy editors."
Joel Achenbach toasts Downie.
5:01: One Postie reporter tells us that Len gave a recap of his career, then Katharine spoke, then
Don Graham. "Longest applause I have ever heard in a newsroom," says our source. Downie said: "I love all of you, and I love this newspaper."
Erik Wemple chats with Downie.
4:54: You might notice the big error in Katharine Weymouth's memo to staffers: Downie's has been with the Post for 44 years, not 24.
4:45: We've obtained Katharine Weymouth's staff memo on Downie's resignation. Full memo after the jump (way down below). A sample: "Len is incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time. He has guided The Washington Post with a steady and unerring hand, and we have been fortunate to have him for the past 24 years -- 17 as Executive Editor."
4:44: In newsroom meeting,
Katharine Weymouth calls Downie "Weymouth "incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time."
puts out an article. "Downie will become a Post Co. vice president at large, a title also held by his predecessor as editor, Ben Bradlee. ... . Those considered to be the strongest contenders for the job are Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett; former Wall Street Journal managing editor Marcus Brauchli, who was ousted in April after Rupert Murdoch took over the paper; and Jonathan Landman, a New York Times deputy managing editor who has run the paper's Metro staff and Week in Review section."4:38: Downie will retire Sept 8. and move upstairs in the Washington Post building to write books and guide changes at the company. "A new young publisher needs a new young executive editor," he said.
Len Downie is stepping down. He started as an intern on June 22, 1964.
4:29: Bob Woodward is there.
4:20: One Postie writes from the meeting: "This looks major major"
2:40: From a tipster:
Downie will tell staff that he is retiring. Worst-kept secret in Washington.
2:32: One Postie says that
Len Downie may announce his retirement at this meeting. Not a chance a successor will be named at the same meeting, which would deny Downie his day-long glory.
2:12: Well, that's what's happening at least.
From one tipster:
WaPo staff meeting today at 4 pm in the downtown newsroom.
And another:
Downie's announced a 4:30 meeting today of unknown subject.
(Although apparently
it's news to Marcus Brauchli)

Len Downie has announced that, effective Monday, September 8, 2008, he will step down from his post as Executive Editor.
Len is incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time. He has guided The Washington Post with a steady and unerring hand, and we have been fortunate to have him for the past 24 years -- 17 as Executive Editor.
Under his leadership, the quality of our coverage and our newspaper grew every year. was born and, thanks to content provided by our newsroom, the site has brought us new readers from around the nation and the world. We have more readers for Washington Post content today than ever. While prizes are just one of many measures of success, during Len's tenure, The Washington Post was awarded a total of 25 Pulitzer Prizes, many White House News Press Photographers Association Awards and other prestigious awards. With Len's sound instincts and nose for talent, our newsroom if filled with an array of remarkably talented journalists who have broken important stories, from neglected children in DC's child welfare system to Walter Reed.
Len, 66, joined The Post as a summer intern in 1964 when he was 22. He became a well-known local investigative reporter in Washington, specializing in crime, courts, housing and urban affairs. At the age of 24, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series uncovering the deplorable conditions of what was then the D.C. Court of General Sessions. Other work he did as a reporter won him two Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Front Page awards, The American Bar Association Gavel Award for legal reporting and the John Hancock Award for excellent business and financial writing.
He worked on The Post's Metro staff as a reporter and editor for 15 years and was Assistant Managing Editor for Metro news from 1974 until 1979. As Deputy Metro Editor, Len supervised The Post's Watergate coverage. He was named London correspondent in 1979 and returned to Washington in 1982 as National Editor. He became Managing Editor of newspaper in 1984 and was named Executive Editor in 1991 Ć¢€“ almost exactly 17 years ago.
Len is the author of four books: Justice Denied (1971); Mortgage on America (1974); The New Muckrakers (1976), a study of investigative reporting; and (with Robert G. Kaiser) The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril (2002). He was also a major contributor to Ten Blocks from the WhiteHouse: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968, a Washington Post book. In 2003, The News About the News won the Goldsmith Award from the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard UniversityĆ¢€™s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Len will assume the role of a Vice President At Large at the newspaper andwill remain at The Washington Post as a trusted friend and advisor. Len'sfirst novel, The Rules of the Game, will be published by Knopf next January.


There's something quite interesting about big moments in big American newspapers, and it's an overwhelming sense that something TERRIBLY important TO THE ENTIRE WORLD has taken place, like the President of the United States of America being assasinated, or Bob Dylan dieing.

People say things like: "I love all of you and I love this newspaper."

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