The Washington Post ombudsman may be confused as to the real purpose of his newspaper; to serve elite interests and shun the mainstream:
Where is The Post going journalistically, and how will it get there?
The glaring weakness of most, but not all, of The Post’s D.C. competitors is that they’re doing journalism for two limited audiences: fat cats and power elites. The Capitol Hill publications aim for the corporations, K Street law firms and trade associations that can afford thousands of dollars in annual subscription costs. And they are selling to Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers and executive branch senior officials who must have a constant stream of information, regardless of price.
Politico is moving to pay-per-view journalism with its PoliticoPro policy services. Bloomberg is the ultimate news outlet for comfortable capitalists. Even the New York Times has evidently decided to be the fee-based national newspaper for the liberal, cultured elite.
So what about the rest of us who want to monitor our government and not pay an arm and a leg to do so? Serving us should be The Post’s mission, pure and simple.
The Post will always compete with the inside-the-Beltway journals and with the Times. It has to. But its future lies not with the rich; it lies with the citizenry. This newspaper must be the one source of high-quality, probing Washington news that readers in this region and across the country can look to for holding their government accountable. This publication must be for all Americans.
This means that The Post can’t be a liberal publication or a conservative one. It must be hard-hitting, scrappy and questioning — skeptical of all political figures and parties and beholden to no one. It has to be the rock-’em-sock-’em organization that is passionate about the news. It needs to be less bloodless and take more risks when chasing the story and the truth.
Where do I get this crazy, almost populist notion? From the readers who write to me by the score every day. Whether they are liberal or conservative, that’s what they want. That’s what they deserve. That should be, and can be financially and journalistically, The Post’s future.