The Washington Post

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This article concerns the newspaper. The Washington Post is also a patriotic march by John Philip Sousa
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owners Washington Post Company
Founded 1877
Political position      Neutral news coverage
Liberal opinion
Headquarters 1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071
Editor-in-chief Leonard Downie, Jr. executive editor

The Washington Post is the largest and oldest newspaper in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It gained worldwide fame in the early 1970s for its Watergate investigation by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, which played a major role in the undoing of the Nixon presidency. It is generally considered second only to The New York Times in stature among American daily newspapers.

Because of its location in the nation's capital, the Post emphasizes coverage of American national politics. Unlike the Times, however, it sees itself as a strictly local or regional newspaper, and does not print a national edition for distribution away from the East Coast.

As of September 2004, its average daily circulation was 707,690 and its Sunday circulation was 1,007,487, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It is the fifth largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today; however, its circulation is limited to mainly the District, Maryland, and Virginia. While its circulation has been slipping, it has one of the highest market-penetration rates of any metropolitan news daily.



The paper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins and in 1880 became the first newspaper in Washington, D.C. to publish daily. In 1899, during the Spanish-American War, the Post printed Clifford K. Berryman's illustration Remember the Maine.

In 1905 Washington McLean and his son John Roll McLean, owners of the Cincinnati Enquirer, purchased a controlling interest. When John died in 1916 he put the paper in trust, having little faith in his playboy son Edward "Ned" McLean with his inheritance. Ned went to court and broke the trust, quickly driving the paper to ruin. It was purchased in a bankruptcy auction in 1933 by a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors, Eugene Meyer, who restored the paper's health and reputation. Philip L. Graham, Meyer's son-in-law, would work his way up to become publisher upon Meyer's death in 1959.

In 1954 the Post acquired its chief rival, the Washington Times-Herald, to become the only morning daily in Washington. Thenceforth its main competition was the Washington Star (Evening Star) until that paper's demise in 1981. Subsequently, the conservative Washington Times, established in 1982, has been a local rival, although as of 2005 the Times had a readership only around one-eighth of the Post's.

After Graham committed suicide in 1963, control of the Washington Post Company passed to Meyer's daughter, Katharine Graham. She was publisher of the newspaper from 1969 to 1979, chairman of the board from 1973 to 1991 and chairman of the executive committee from 1993 until her death in 2001. Her son, Donald Graham, was publisher from 1979 to 2000 when Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr. took over as publisher and CEO of the Post.

As of 2005 the Post had been honored with 18 Pulitzer Prizes, 18 Nieman Fellowships, and 368 White House News Photographers Association Awards, among others.

It is part of the Washington Post Company, which owns a number of other media and non-media companies, including Newsweek magazine, the online magazine Slate, and the Kaplan test preparation service.

Political leanings

The Post is generally seen as being politically liberal, particularly on its opinion pages. For example, it usually supports Democratic candidates when making political endorsements. Conservative pundits often cite it along with The New York Times as epitomizing the "liberal media."

The paper argues that its news coverage is politically neutral, an assessment that has its supporters but also draws fire from many directions.

Criticism by Ombudsmen

After the 1981 publication of 'Jimmy's World' (a story for which Post reporter Janet Cooke had been nominated by Bob Woodward for the Pulitzer Prize, which she subsequently won and later returned after it was established the story was a fabrication), Post Ombudsman Bill Green concluded an investigation with several comments and recommendations, including "The scramble for journalistic prizes is poisonous. The obligation is to inform readers, not to collect frameable certificates, however prestigious. Maybe the Post should consider not entering contests."[1]

In 1998 the Post printed a series of denials regarding public leaks of depositions given by President Clinton in the Jones v. Clinton case contrary to an Order of the Court. Dr. Deni Elliot of the Practical Ethics Center, after reviewing the matter, concluded that the Post knew the source of the illegal leaks yet "knowingly deceived its readers" by alleging the leaks could have come from the Court or the opposing counsel's office. "The Post," Dr. Elliot wrote in the Organization of News Ombudsmen’s publication, "intentionally lied to its readers in printing this set of denials...None of this sounds like the making of ethical principles". [2]

Notable contributors

Executive Officers and Editors - Past and Previous

External links

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