We’re at Nathans Georgetown right now and live-blogging the “Q&A Cafe” interview of Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie, Jr. by host Carol Joynt. (In chronological order)
Sitting with Jim Kimsey, Victoria Michaels and Pam Sorensen (with whom, one’s thirst can be quenched) before the interview, Downie confesses to them that both he and Don Graham read the Sports section first thing in the morning (not together natch…). He also brags about the number of comics in the Washington Post and how it compares with other papers.
Says Downie to the table: “I figure that the people who interview ought to subject themselves to interviews once in a while.”
Ben Bradlee put a whoopee cushion under Downie’s seat. Just kidding.
Downie’s working on his beach figure, declining the food and saying “I don’t need to eat that much anyway.”
Joynt, referring to the Post’s Pulitzer sweep, says “It’s certainly been a good week for Len Downie and the Washington Post.” (applause) “I planned this allthe way along,” she jokes. “The DC Madam last spring, Len Downie this spring.” (laughter)
He’s explaining to the table how the paper comes to me…editorial meeting…what gets put on the website…what holds for the paper, etc. “Starting about 4 in the afternoon, I leave my office and go to the news desk in the news room….People start lobbying us. … We talk and discuss various things and start to make decisions.” I like to walk around I walk around and visit people. … I usually work until about 8 o’clock.”
Beach figure be damned: Downie digs into his lunch.
On the website: “It’s doing really well. We have about 15 million unique visitors doing well. 10 million page views a day. It’s doing very well. It’s really increased our readership and what I really like is all the multimedia stuff.”
Is the Internet a threat? “We used to think so. … I no longer think of us as a newsroom. I think of us as a multimedia newsroom. … The print audience is shrinking as the web audience grows.”
“I’m really amazed at how many people listen to our podcasts,” said Downie. “A lot of our podcasts are tops on iTunes and that really surprises me, it really does.”
“We’re still working on how to best deliver our content to handheld devices.”
Joynt: “Did you ever think you would win in a group that included Bob Dylan.” (Laughter) Downie: “Ha, no I didn’t.”
Referring to how the Virginia Tech reporters donated their prize to charity, Downie joked, “We have other ways of rewarding them.”
The Pulitzer Public Service award is his favorite, “because that’s why we’re in this business: To service the public.”
“I call Steve Pearlstein ‘The Scold’ because, like me, he’s always scolding everyone.”
On Jo Becker, who left for the New York Times: “We’ll still get her back somehow.” Referring to Becker’s husband, Serge Kovaleski, who was a key decision to move to New York, “We call him the ‘Traitor’ in the newsroom.”
Referring to Becker/Bart Gellman’s “Cheney” series: “At first we didn’t like that story … we thought it’d be too hard to do.”
More after the jump…