Seven years after the death of legendary Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, her 42-year-old granddaughter has taken over control of the paper and is shaking up the newsroom. Katharine Weymouth tells Condé Nast Portfolio how she plans to save the family's flagship brand and--she hopes--reinvent the industry.
Nobody knows better than Katharine Weymouth that the newspaper industry is experiencing what may be called, euphemistically, a period of transition. But the new publisher of the Washington Post isn't big on euphemisms.
"The numbers suck in our business," the 42-year-old granddaughter of legendary Post publisher Katharine Graham declares, holding her tall, lithe frame dancer-straight, the result of a childhood spent in ballet classes.
It's a lovely day in early April, and Weymouth is at the Post's downtown D.C. headquarters, meeting with the staff of Style, one of the paper's more popular sections. The session is a stop on the listening tour of the newsroom that she's been conducting since February, when she was named publisher and chief executive of Washington Post Media, a newly configured unit that encompasses the newspaper's long-divided print and Web operations. (View a slideshow featuring some of the newspaper's major players.)
This should be a very good day at the Post. The day before, the paper won six Pulitzer Prizes, a record for the Post and the second-biggest haul ever for any newspaper in a single year. To celebrate, Weymouth threw open the doors of her decidedly unflashy home for an impromptu shindig, greeting coworkers in her bare feet and chatting with young staffers into the night.
But the afterglow is already waning, and now it's back to the dismal reality of newspapers everywhere. "We are going to have to get smaller and better and still find a way to put out the best product we can," Weymouth tells the assembled reporters and editors at the headquarters of the Post. "That may mean that we have to make some choices about what we can cover and what we can't--and those are going to be hard choices."