Kaplan/Washington Post Throws in Towel on Virginia Politics Blog

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    Recently, I wrote about the precipitous, almost nauseating decline in the Kaplan/Washington Post’s coverage of Virginia politics. As I pointed out at the time, there’s been a drop of about 70% since February 2012 in the number of Virginia politics articles the Post’s been publishing every month. As for the quality, it’s harder to measure, but I’ve seen a lot of mistakes recently. For instance, there was one article about Jim Moran where they used a photo of Brian Moran, apparently not having a clue that there’s a difference. There was also an article this weekend on the DPVA Central Committee meeting, in which it completely mangled why Terry McAuliffe wasn’t there on Saturday. According to the original Post article (corrected many hours later), T-Mac was in Philly to watch his son play in the Army-Navy football game. In reality, T-Mac’s son plays rugby, not football. Whatever, details details.

    Bottom line: the Post’s Virginia Politics blog has been in steep decline with the departures of Rosalind Helderman and other strong reporters from their staff. So their latest move? Instead of putting resources into improving their coverage of Virginia politics, they’ve apparently opted for shuffling the deck around – that is, by killing the Virginia Politics blog altogether! Perhaps they’re hoping that nobody will notice the difference, or that repackaging will help cover for a bare cupboard. Or perhaps, as Ben Tribbett posits, perhaps “This WaPo move is to capture political readers behind its paywall slated for next year. No more free news on Virginia from WaPo.” Hmmmm.

    Whatever the “reasoning” here, the bottom line is that the Post has forgotten to be local. Or, perhaps it hasn’t so much forgotten as realized that it simply doesn’t have the resources, dedication, or ability to adequately cover Virginia politics as a crucial election year approaches. No matter how you slice it, that’s a major #FAIL for the Post. The question is whether it’s an opportunity for the Patch, independent political bloggers, and other news outlets like the Virginian Pilot (Julian Walker), Roanoke Times (Michael Sluss), the Washington Times (Dave Sherfinski), and the Richmond Times Dispatch (Jeff Schapiro, Jim Nolan, Olympia Meola, Andrew Cain) to expand?

    P.S. No wonder why the Post’s Virginia politics coverage is so bad; they think that spending their time covering utter irrelevance/triviality like this is the best use of their limited resources. That, and plagiarizing independent Virginia political blogs. So lame.

    • richmonder

      The Post is or claims to be the premier politics newspaper in the country. And since local politics is the foundation of national politics, it makes no sense to shrink coverage of Virginia (and Maryland, too?). NYT and Boston Globe have made a virtue out of deepening their micro-coverage of local communities to make themselves more indispensable to their local readers, strengthening their subscription base. The Post should be doing the same. So it’s puzzling, especially since their circulation outside the District must be vital to their business model, whether the news is delivered digitally or in print. For those of us in Richmond, it’s especially sad. The RTD, despite some talented reporters, often can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to state politics.