Washington Post closes local news bureaus

Thu Sep 1, 2011 5:14pm EDT

NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - The Washington Post has decided to close all its local bureaus except those in the capitals of Virginia and Maryland.

The Post, whose parent company reported a 50 percent drop in profits for its second quarter in early August, closed all of its national bureaus in 2009.

A staff memo from executive editor Marcus Brauchli, managing editors Liz Spayd and Raju Narisetti, and local editor Vernon Loeb said the move was not about personnel but office space.

"We are doing this because we have more space than we use in many places, not because we are retrenching," the memo said.

"Indeed, we may decide in some cases to take smaller offices in the same communities, and we will retain our existing bureaus in Richmond and Annapolis."

The editors also said that they would use the money to invest in technology that will permit reporters to post from anywhere, which is part of their recent strategy to invest more in regional coverage than national and international coverage.

"Re-assessing our need for leased space in the suburbs will have no adverse impact on our coverage of the region and will, rather, create savings that will ultimately benefit our readers," the memo said.

However, a message from the newsroom representative to the Washington Post Guild, Freddy Kunkle, suggests that claims of excess space are code for the company's financial problems. This was posted by Jim Romenesko, Poynter Institute.

"Vernon also says that although this is obviously another sign of the Post's effort to grapple with the economy and the radical changes in the media business, the closure of the physical buildings does not mean that the Post will reduce its local coverage," Kunkle wrote.