Following on news earlier this year that the Post would begin asking employees to critique themselves, word from the desk of Executive Editor Len Downie that as of Tuesday morning, the paper will be posting internally daily critiques of the paper itself.
The idea grows out of the annual Pugwash editorial conference and sounds similar to the “greenies,” the daily memo critique that the New York Times circulates.
Each day three newsroom staff (which broadly construed could include any number of positions) will be asked to write signed critiques of the “front page, other section fronts and anything else of note about the paper’s writing, headlines, photos, graphics and news coverage.” Other staff could then post signed comments.
“Our aim is to create constructive staff-wide discussion of story play and the quality of our journalism to help us continue to improve the newspaper and appeal to readers,” Downie explained in the email yesterday afternoon.
The natural question coming out of this is how honest anyone will feel they can be. Will anyone dare touch one of the paper’s sacred cows? For instance, would anyone point the over-coverage of the Nationals on Tuesday or take the paper to task for getting scooped on its own reporter’s book? Will a cub Metro reporter really feel that he or she can openly question Dana Milbank‘s reporting?
Full Downie email after the jump.
> EARLIER: Post-Pugwash memo — Paper entering a period of ‘radical evolution’
We would like to experiment with a suggestion made by a number of senior editors and discussed at last month’s Pugwash. Beginning Tuesday, July 12, we will ask three members of the newsroom staff (three different people each weekday) to critique that day’s front page, other section fronts and anything else of note about the paper’s writing, headlines, photos, graphics, and news coverage. Each person would decide how much of the paper to cover and how long to make the commentary. Each critique would be signed by its author. All three would be posted on the Source, and an all-newsroom message would link everyone to that day’s critique postings.
Other staff members would be able to log in and post signed comments about the critiques. Our aim is to create constructive staff-wide discussion of story play and the quality of our journalism to help us continue to improve the newspaper and appeal to readers. Its success will depend on your participation and well-intended frankness. [AME for News Desk] Ed Thiede, who will moderate, will send everyone a message outlining how this process will work, including a rotation he will set up to involve as many members of the staff as possible in doing the critiques.
Please join in.