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Silicon Valley Tech-Like Amenities in HuffPost DC Newsroom

20140619_142634Looking for a newsroom environment with a fully stocked kitchen, beers on tap, meditation room, nap room, AND yoga studio? Probably not gonna happen. Unless you work at the DC bureau of The Huffington Post!

When I first heard about The Huffington Post’s DC digs, I wanted to call their bluff. How could the home of HuffPost Politics – the number one trafficked politics site – have all the amenities of a booming Silicon Valley tech giant?

I recently had the opportunity to tour the HuffPost DC bureau to see if the rumors were true. Spoiler alert – they were.

What must be one of the closest news outlets, if not the closest news outlet, to the White House, The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau is located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets NW. Just beyond its Sixth Floor entrance is a fully stocked kitchen with all types of (free) food and drink – fresh fruit brought in weekly, Doritos, DC Brau, Starbucks coffee, Diet Coke, Red Bull. Red Bull? How do staff seriously not abuse that amenity? I surely would.

First order of business – trying out the tap. Lunch hour had already passed and heck, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

Around the corner from the kitchen was the very relaxing Meditation Room and the Nap Room, of which I had the chance to try out both (they work – I left clear-minded and refreshed). And close nearby is the Yoga Studio, where twice weekly, (free) classes are offered for staff.

Along a hallway to the actual newsroom are break out rooms – referred to internally as huddle rooms – some occupied, some not, used for formal and informal meeting space or a quiet place to take a call.

Enter the newsroom, and you see nearly 50 work stations for the bureau’s politics, polling, and video production staff, most seated but with the option for a heightened desk to work while standing. Along one wall is the HuffPost Live production studio and booth, responsible for both taped and live segments for The Huffington Post and other networks’ live hits.

Washington bureau chief of The Huffington Post Ryan Grim, who has worked in other DC newsrooms including the Washington City Paper and POLITICO, jokingly offered some criticism, saying, “Sometimes the keg gives too much head and it’s difficult to work under those conditions.”

In all seriousness, he went on to say, “It’s good to be valued by the company, especially in an age when people are getting their budgets slashed. And in the scheme of things, it’s really nothing…relative to the amount of money.”

Sam Stein, senior political editor and White House correspondent for The Huffington Post, is often at 1600 Penn. and the bureau’s close proximity to it works to his advantage. He said from door to gate, average travel time is a minute and a half, but recalls a time he got there in 45 seconds (or so).

One evening, after arriving home near 16th & U, he saw on TV that Obama was giving a press conference. Stein made it from home, to the bureau (via bike), and over to the White House in enough time to still ask a question of the President.

Stein also admitted to somewhat regularly taking advantage of the Nap Room, specifically on days when he appears on “Morning Joe,” either around 11am or 2pm for a solid 20 – 25 minutes.

On being successful for an online news outlet like The Huffington Post, Grim said that, “People just need to be internally driven, and in order to do that, they have to be happy and they have to enjoy what they do. So this is all a part of that.” ‘That’ being the amenities of The Huffington Post DC bureau, of which mirror the concept of ‘Thriving,’ that Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington laid out in her recent book.

After completing the tour, I grabbed a sugar free Red Bull and bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and walked over to the White House gate used daily by press. Three minutes and 406 steps later I was there. But in all fairness, I waited at least one minute for the elevator and there were two stops going down. But more importantly, I was in no rush at all, and actually a bit tipsy.

Interested in giving FishbowlDC a tour of your newsroom? Email fishbowlnick@gmail.com.

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