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The paper was founded in 1877 and has been in the hands of the Meyer-Graham family since 1933. It is owned by The Washington Post Co., whose chairman and CEO is Donald Graham. The company also owns the Kaplan education business, a cable division, six local TV stations, and a hospice firm.
While the Post is also a local newspaper, it has specialized in national politics, developing a reputation as one of America’s leading political journalism institutions, particularly since its coverage of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. It has won more than 50 Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other prestigious journalism awards since then. The Post has also, however, periodically received criticism for not emphasizing its local coverage enough, and for emphasizing it too much.
During the last several years, the Post has faced some financial difficulties, making significant newsroom staff reductions and closing all of its domestic bureaus. Though The Washington Post Co. remains profitable its newspaper division lost money in 2009 and 2010, and questions around its Kaplan unit, which accounts for a substantial part of its overall revenue, resulted in a decline in revenue in 2011. In 2013, the company expanded its polling division into an independent polling group doing poll research for outside clients.
The Post launched its website in 1996 as a separate operation from its print product, with offices in Virginia. For 13 years, the two newsrooms operated in what some called a tense partnership before merging on Jan. 1, 2010.
The Post was among the first U.S. news sites to conduct regular live online chats, and it also won the first Emmy for online news video in 2006. It has also made significant investments in various forms of research and development since then.
The Post attempted to move into hyperlocal journalism in 2007 with LoudounExtra.com, a site devoted to Loudoun County, Virginia. The site struggled to find an audience. In 2009, its creative team having left the Post, Loudoun Extra closed.
In September 2009, the Post issued a set of social media guidelines emphasizing neutrality and objectivity by its reporters and editors. The guidelines were met with mixed reaction, some questioned the objectives, some panned the rules and the implications for the newsroom, others supported it.
In 2009, the Post launched Story Lab, a blog that experiments with new narrative forms in its reporting and presentation.
The Post’s breaking-news blogging and aggregation initiative, blogPOST, came under fire in 2012 when one of its bloggers resigned after being caught plagiarizing. The site was accused of pushing its young reporters too hard to blog quickly without enough guidance.
In April 2010, the Post launched a redesigned politics section that emphasizes social sharing and interactivity and is designed to compete with Politico. Shortly thereafter, the paper also started a network of user-created political blogs.
The Post released an iPhone app in March 2010: It initially charged $1.99 per year but made the app free about a year later. In November 2010 the Post launched a free iPad app, and in March 2012 it launched a politics iPad app, which is free to download and use but costs $2.99 per month for full access. It relaunched its main app and included a replica of the print newspaper in 2013; at that point, the app was still free, but set to become paid as the company launched a paid-content plan later that year.
In April 2011, the Post launched Trove, a news aggregator that mines users’ Facebook data to deliver personalized content. Later that year, the Post became one of the first news organizations to launch a social news app inside Facebook — drawing 3.5 million users in its first two months — and also released an Android-based app. (It moved the app off of Facebook to a standalone site in 2012.) It has used the Trove technology to experiment with personalized headlines. In 2013, the Post launched a feature called Post Pulse to highlight socially trending content.
The Post launched a crowdsourcing platform called Crowd Sourced in August 2012. It also collaborated with The New York Times beginning that year on a database of election results, relying in part on volunteer help.
The Post was awarded a Knight Foundation grant in 2012 to develop Truth Teller, a live fact-checking tool for audio and video content. The prototype debuted in January 2013. The Post also partners with the Medill School at Northwestern and the Knight Foundation to fund programmer-journalist scholarships.
The Post announced in March 2013 it would institute a metered pay plan that summer, with free access for print subscribers as well as students, educators, and government and military employees.
Before that announcement, the Post had been one of the most prominent American newspapers to forgo an online paywall, with its executives repeatedly saying they had no plans to launch a paywall for their online content.
The paper’s lack of a paywall has at times been controversial: Former editor Marcus Brauchli reportedly clashed with publisher Katharine Weymouth over what he saw as insufficient revenue generation from the Post’s website, and critics have called for the Post to adopt a paid-content approach.
The Post has incorporated sponsored content through a program called BrandConnect that lets advertisers write their own content for the site.
In 2009, Post officials circulated plans to offer lobbyists exclusive off-the-record meetings, or “salons,” with government officials and Post reporters and editors for a cost of up to $250,000. The meetings were to be held at the home of Post publisher Katharine Weymouth. The plans were canceled soon after Politico reported on them.
The proposal was met with strong criticism from within the Post and elsewhere in the industry. The Post’s ombudsman called it “an ethical lapse of monumental proportions,” Weymouth apologized to the Post’s readers, and an internal investigation was launched. Two months later, the marketing executive who helped organize the salons resigned.
Newsweek was the second-largest newsweekly magazine in the United States. The magazine was owned by Barry Diller‘s Internet company IAC, owner of the news site The Daily Beast. The site had been bought in 2010 by Sidney Harman, who quickly merged it with IAC, but Harman ended his investment in the magazine in 2012. Newsweek’s print edition…