Why Is the Washington Post So Obsessed With Its Move?
It’s easier to write an obituary for a building than a profession.
Only a grinch would deny a group of white-collar wage slaves their trip down memory lane upon the occasion of their company’s move from one dump of an office building to another. But, dear reader, I am that grinch.
If you read the Washington Post print edition or visit its website with any regularity, you might get the impression that one of the larger stories in the nation’s capital is the fact that its paper of record is moving a seven-minute walk east from the downtown D.C. location it has occupied since 1972 . . .
But for the Washington Post, the change of venue is an event taking its place in history alongside Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, the Great Migration from the South or Hannibal’s hike over the Alps.
Shafer also kvetches about a Post farewell editorial “written in a tone hard to distinguish from the work of a starstruck intern.”
Not to mention:
Post Metro columnist John Kelly wrote his goodbye to the place in late November and cartoonist/editor/columnist Michael Cavna filed his earlier this week. The paper’s video team produced at least two farewell vids and another two about the paper’s new address. Feature writer Joel Achenbach produced a photo-profile of the building for his blog in which he also reported on the paper’s goodbye party to itself (A-list alumni in attendance: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, former executive editors Len Downie and Marcus Brauchli and former publisher Don Graham).
And then there’s the “4,000-word feature about the building’s history by staffer Marc Fisher, who also emceed the paper’s internal goodbye party.”
Talk about your extended Post mortem.
But Shafer doesn’t stop there.
His climactic conclusion:
Newspapers—all American newspapers—have been on a trajectory for the past decade (or more) toward less influence and diminished importance, and smaller offices. When newspapers have left their traditional homes (Detroit, Miami, Seattle, San Jose, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and elsewhere) for less prestigious nests, it becomes psychologically important for journalists to remind readers, Norma Desmond style, of how big they once were. The Boston Globe, much smaller now, is taking a victory lap in the movie theaters for an investigative story it published 13 years ago. And when it moves from its unloved building in 2017, I’ll buy you a Sam Adams if Boston readers aren’t treated to a Post-worthy round of commemoration.
We’ve already seen the first volley about the Globe’s move from its unloved building.
More, it’s a Shafer bet, to come.