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  1. North America
July 8, 2024updated 09 Jul 2024 4:39pm

Washington Post ‘third newsroom’ creation gets underway

Krissah Thompson will oversee the building of a project that the Post hopes will develop new revenue streams.

By Bron Maher

The Washington Post’s planned creation of a “third newsroom” has taken a key step with one of its managing editors assigned to the task.

The third newsroom, first announced by Post chief executive William Lewis last month, is intended to help the legacy news title reach new audiences – especially those who might currently only see its work off-platform including on social media – and find new revenue streams.

It will be distinct from the Post’s news and opinion operations and the aim is that it will be operational by the third quarter of the year.

Krissah Thompson, who has been at the Post since 2001 and a managing editor since 2021, has been assigned away from her day job to “run the newsroom process building the third newsroom”.

She is currently creating a task force that is expected to be in place this week and will field input from commercial colleagues.

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Executive editor Matt Murray said in a note on Monday she was “uniquely qualified” for the job because in her current role she has overseen “hiring and recruiting, diversity and inclusion efforts, features, audio and climate coverage and numerous initiatives”.

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At the start of June Murray was announced in the top job of executive editor to replace Sally Buzbee, who left with immediate effect. It was intended that Murray would stay in the role until after the US presidential election in November at which point he would move to oversee the third newsroom.

However his planned replacement as executive editor, Telegraph deputy editor Robert Winnett, decided not to join the Post following criticism in US media relating to allegations he published stories based on illegally obtained material.

A spokesperson for The Washington Post would not clarify on Monday whether Murray is still expected to take over the third newsroom in November or if he will now stay in the executive editor job.

What will The Washington Post’s ‘third newsroom’ do?

The third newsroom proposal comes amid a period of intense financial pressure for the Post. Following a boom time during Donald Trump’s presidency, The Washington Post saw a tail-off in subscriptions and traffic: Lewis disclosed to staff earlier in May that the paper lost $77m last year.

Questions remain over how exactly the third newsroom will address that crisis. Lewis told staff last month it is “core” to the Post’s “Build It Plan on a page to reach more, and make more out of the audiences we currently don’t serve — our untapped audience. You could say that it’s us matching our structure to our strategy.”

The Post said last month the new operation will focus on social media and service journalism and use tools like video storytelling, embracing AI and flexible payment methods like micropayments.

In his note on Monday, former Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Murray described the project’s focus as “properly structuring ourselves for a rapidly and regularly changing news ecosystem”, something the Post intends to do by “developing new products and formats” and putting its content in front of “different audiences, especially off-platform users who consume Washington Post journalism but are less likely to subscribe for our traditional offerings”.

Similarly, in 2022 Thompson told Press Gazette the launch of a dedicated wellness department staffed with 20 journalists was intended in part to reach new audiences with “utility” or “service-oriented” content, relating making conventional science reporting more relevant to people’s everyday concerns.

Despite their popularity among consumers, news publishers have generally been sceptical of micropayments. Small payments for individual articles have been proposed as a useful way of bringing in revenue amid an unstable advertising market, but publishers have tended to determine they are not worth the effort nor the risk of cannibalisation.

There have been suggestions the third newsroom may take after The News Movement, a social-first, youth-focused news outlet founded in 2020 by Lewis, Kamal Ahmed – who also left the business this year to become director of audio at The Telegraph – and former Dow Jones executive colleagues of Lewis.

The News Movement attempts to solve the problem of monetising news on video platforms like Tiktok, mostly by striking paid partnerships with larger news organisations and media agencies in need of social news expertise.

The model is as-yet unproven. Adweek reported in November that The News Movement was on track to net more than $1m in revenue after its first year operating in the US, but that news came shortly after the business made layoffs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ahmed told Press Gazette in November that despite the cuts, the company was on a “path to profitability”.

The News Movement has since attracted some attention amid scrutiny of Lewis himself, with the Post itself reporting in June that the paper had struck a deal with TNM while Lewis continues to hold equity in the start-up.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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