The Washington Post (also known as the Post and, informally, WaPo) is an American
daily newspaper published in
Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area.
The previous headquarters of The Washington Post on 15th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Post is regarded as one of the leading daily American newspapers along with The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The Post has distinguished itself through its political reporting on the workings of the White House, Congress, and other aspects of the U.S. government. It is considered a newspaper of record in the U.S.
The Washington Post does not print an edition for distribution away from the
East Coast. In 2009, the newspaper ceased publication of its National Weekly Edition due to shrinking circulation. The majority of its newsprint readership is in Washington D.C. and its suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The newspaper is one of a few U.S. newspapers with foreign bureaus, which are located in Baghdad, Beijing, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Cairo, Dakar, Hong Kong, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jerusalem, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Tokyo and Toronto. In November 2009, it announced the closure of its U.S. regional bureaus in
Los Angeles and
New York, as part of an increased focus on Washington political stories and local news. The newspaper has local bureaus in Maryland (Annapolis, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and Southern Maryland) and Virginia (Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Richmond, and Prince William County).
The Post's average printed weekday circulation is 159,040, making it the fourth largest newspaper in the country by circulation.
For many decades, the Post had its main office at 1150 15th Street NW. This real estate remained with Graham Holdings when the newspaper was sold to Jeff Bezos' Nash Holdings in 2013. Graham Holdings sold 1150 15th Street (along with 1515 L Street, 1523 L Street, and land beneath 1100 15th Street) for $159 million in November 2013. The Post continued to lease space at 1150 L Street NW. In May 2014, The Post leased the west tower of
One Franklin Square, a high-rise building at 1301 K Street NW in Washington, D.C.
Mary Jordan was the founding editor, head of content, and moderator for Washington Post Live, The Post's editorial events business, which organizes political debates, conferences and news events for the media company, including "The 40th Anniversary of Watergate" in June 2012 that featured key Watergate figures including former White House counsel
John Dean, Washington Post editor
Ben Bradlee, and reporters
Bob Woodward and
Carl Bernstein, which was held at the Watergate hotel. Regular hosts include
Frances Stead SellersLois Romano was formerly the editor of Washington Post Live.
The Post has its own exclusive zip code, 20071.
Arc XP is a department of The Washington Post, which provides a publishing system and software for news organizations such as the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
Founding and early period
The Washington Post building the week after the 1948 Presidential election. The "Crow-Eaters" sign is addressed to
Harry Truman, after his surprise re-election.
The newspaper was founded in 1877 by
Stilson Hutchins (1838–1912), and in 1880 it added a Sunday edition, becoming the city's first newspaper to publish seven days a week.
The Washington Post and Union masthead, April 16, 1878
In April 1878, about four months into publication, The Washington Post purchased The Washington Union, a competing newspaper which was founded by John Lynch in late 1877. The Union had only been in operation about six months at the time of the acquisition. The combined newspaper was published from the Globe Building as The Washington Post and Union beginning on April 15, 1878, with a circulation of 13,000. The Post and Union name was used about two weeks until April 29, 1878, returning to the original masthead the following day.
In 1889, Hutchins sold the newspaper to
Frank Hatton, a former Postmaster General, and
Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio. To promote the newspaper, the new owners requested the leader of the
United States Marine Band,
John Philip Sousa, to compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. Sousa composed "
The Washington Post". It became the standard music to accompany the two-step, a late 19th-century dance craze, and remains one of Sousa's best-known works.
In 1893, the newspaper moved to a building at 14th and E streets NW, where it would remain until 1950. This building combined all functions of the newspaper into one headquarters – newsroom, advertising, typesetting, and printing – that ran 24 hours per day.
Wilkins acquired Hatton's share of the newspaper in 1894 at Hatton's death. After Wilkins' death in 1903, his sons John and Robert ran the Post for two years before selling it in 1905 to
John Roll McLean, owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. During the Wilson presidency, the Post was credited with the "most famous newspaper
typo" in D.C. history according to Reason magazine; the Post intended to report that President Wilson had been "entertaining" his future-wife Mrs. Galt, but instead wrote that he had been "entering" Mrs. Galt.
When John McLean died in 1916, he put the newspaper in trust, having little faith that his playboy son
Edward "Ned" McLean could manage his inheritance. Ned went to court and broke the trust, but, under his management, the newspaper slumped toward ruin. He bled the paper for his lavish lifestyle and used it to promote political agendas.
Red Summer of 1919 the Post supported the white mobs and even ran a front-page story which advertised the location at which white servicemen were planning to meet to carry out attacks on black Washingtonians.
The Post's health and reputation were restored under Meyer's ownership. In 1946, he was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law,
Philip Graham. Meyer eventually gained the last laugh over Hearst, who had owned the old Washington Times and the Herald before their 1939 merger that formed the Times-Herald. This was in turn bought by and merged into the Post in 1954. The combined paper was officially named The Washington Post and Times-Herald until 1973, although the Times-Herald portion of the
nameplate became less and less prominent over time. The merger left the Post with two remaining local competitors, the Washington Star (Evening Star) and The Washington Daily News which merged in 1972, forming the Washington Star-News.
After Phil Graham's death in 1963, control of The Washington Post Company passed to his wife Katharine Graham (1917–2001), who was also Eugene Meyer's daughter. Few women had run prominent national newspapers in the United States. Katharine Graham described her own anxiety and lack of confidence as she stepped into a leadership role in her autobiography. She served as publisher from 1969 to 1979.
Graham took The Washington Post Company public on June 15, 1971, in the midst of the
Pentagon Papers controversy. A total of 1,294,000 shares were offered to the public at $26 per share. By the end of Graham's tenure as CEO in 1991, the stock was worth $888 per share, not counting the effect of an intermediate 4:1 stock split.
During this time, Graham also oversaw the Post company's diversification purchase of the for-profit education and training company
Kaplan, Inc. for $40 million in 1984. Twenty years later, Kaplan had surpassed the Post newspaper as the company's leading contributor to income, and by 2010 Kaplan accounted for more than 60% of the entire company revenue stream.
In 1972, the "Book World" section was introduced with Pulitzer Prize-winning critic
William McPherson as its first editor. It featured Pulitzer Prize-winning critics such as
Jonathan Yardley and
Michael Dirda, the latter of whom established his career as a critic at the Post. In 2009, after 37 years, with great reader outcries and protest, The Washington Post Book World as a standalone insert was discontinued, the last issue being Sunday, February 15, 2009, along with a general reorganization of the paper, such as placing the Sunday editorials on the back page of the main front section rather than the "Outlook" section and distributing some other locally oriented "op-ed" letters and commentaries in other sections. However, book reviews are still published in the Outlook section on Sundays and in the Style section the rest of the week, as well as online.
In 1995, the domain name washingtonpost.com was purchased. That same year, a failed effort to create an online news repository called Digital Ink launched. The following year it was shut down and the first website was launched in June 1996.
Jeff Bezos era (2013–present)
Demolition of the 15th Street headquarters in April 2016
In late September 2013,
Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post and other local publications, websites, and real estate for US$250million, transferring ownership to Nash Holdings LLC, Bezos's private investment company. The paper's former parent company, which retained some other assets such as Kaplan and a group of TV stations, was renamed
Graham Holdings Company shortly after the sale.
Nash Holdings, including the Post, is operated separately from technology company
Amazon, which Bezos founded and where he is as of 2022[update] executive chairman and the largest single shareholder, with 12.7% of voting rights.
Bezos said he has a vision that recreates "the 'daily ritual' of reading the Post as a bundle, not merely a series of individual stories..." He has been described as a "hands-off owner", holding teleconference calls with executive editor
Martin Baron every two weeks. Bezos appointed
Fred Ryan (founder and CEO of Politico) to serve as publisher and chief executive officer. This signaled Bezos' intent to shift the Post to a more digital focus with a national and global readership.
In 2015 the Post moved from the building it owned at 1150 15th Street to a leased space three blocks away at One Franklin Square on K Street. Since 2014 the Post launched an online personal finance section, a blog, and a podcast with a retro theme. The Post won the
2020 Webby People's Voice Award for News & Politics in the Social and Web categories.
Eugene Meyer became head of the World Bank in 1946, and he named his son-in-law Phil Graham to succeed him as Post publisher. The post-war years saw the developing friendship of Phil and Kay Graham with the Kennedys, the Bradlees and the rest of the "
Georgetown Set" (many
Harvardalumni) that would color the Post's political orientation. Kay Graham's most memorable Georgetown soirée guest list included British diplomat/communist spy
Two United States soldiers and one
South Vietnamese soldier
waterboard a captured North Vietnamese prisoner of war. The publication of the image on the front cover of The Washington Post on 21 January 1968 led to the court-martial of one of the United States soldiers, although The Washington Post described waterboarding as "fairly common".
Ben Bradlee became the editor-in-chief in 1968, and Kay Graham officially became the publisher in 1969, paving the way for the aggressive reporting of the Pentagon Papers and
Watergate scandals. The Post strengthened public opposition to the Vietnam War in 1971 when it published the Pentagon Papers. In the mid-1970s, some conservatives referred to the Post as "Pravda on the
Potomac" because of its perceived left-wing bias in both reporting and editorials. Since then, the appellation has been used by both liberal and conservative critics of the newspaper.
In the PBS documentary Buying the War, journalist
Bill Moyers said in the year prior to the
Iraq War there were 27 editorials supporting the Bush administration's ambitions to invade the country. National security correspondent
Walter Pincus reported that he had been ordered to cease his reports that were critical of the administration. According to author and journalist
Greg Mitchell: "By the Post's own admission, in the months before the war, it ran more than 140 stories on its front page promoting the war, while contrary information got lost".
In November 2007, the newspaper was criticized by independent journalist
Robert Parry for reporting on anti-Obama chain e-mails without sufficiently emphasizing to its readers the false nature of the anonymous claims. In 2009, Parry criticized the newspaper for its allegedly unfair reporting on liberal politicians, including Vice President
Al Gore and President
Responding to criticism of the newspaper's coverage during the run-up to the
2008 presidential election, former PostombudsmanDeborah Howell wrote: "The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama." According to a 2009
Oxford University Press book by Richard Davis on the impact of blogs on American politics, liberal bloggers link to The Washington Post and The New York Times more often than other major newspapers; however, conservative bloggers also link predominantly to liberal newspapers.
Since 2011, the Post has been running a column called "The Fact Checker" that the Post describes as a "truth squad". The Fact Checker received a $250,000 grant from
Google News Initiative/YouTube to expand production of video
In the vast majority of U.S. elections, for federal, state, and local office, the Post editorial board has endorsed Democratic candidates. The paper's editorial board and endorsement decision-making are separate from newsroom operations. Until 1976, the Post did not regularly make endorsements in presidential elections. Since it endorsed
Jimmy Carter in 1976, the Post has endorsed Democrats in presidential elections, and has never endorsed a Republican for president in the general election, although in the
1988 presidential election, the Post declined to endorse either Governor
Michael Dukakis (the Democratic candidate) or Vice President
George H. W. Bush (the Republican candidate). The Post editorial board endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012;Hillary Clinton in
Joe Biden for
In September 1980, a Sunday feature story appeared on the front page of the Post titled "Jimmy's World" in which reporter
Janet Cooke wrote a profile of the life of an eight-year-old heroin
addict. Although some within the Post doubted the story's veracity, the paper's editors defended it, and assistant managing editor
Bob Woodward submitted the story to the
Pulitzer Prize Board at
Columbia University for consideration. Cooke was awarded the
Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing on April 13, 1981. The story was subsequently found to be a complete fabrication, and the Pulitzer was returned.
Private "salon" solicitation
In July 2009, in the midst of an intense debate over
health care reform, The Politico reported that a health-care lobbyist had received an "astonishing" offer of access to the Post's "health-care reporting and editorial staff."Post publisher
Katharine Weymouth had planned a series of exclusive dinner parties or "salons" at her private residence, to which she had invited prominent lobbyists, trade group members, politicians, and business people. Participants were to be charged $25,000 to sponsor a single salon, and $250,000 for 11 sessions, with the events being closed to the public and to the non-Post press.Politico's revelation gained a somewhat mixed response in Washington as it gave the impression that the parties' sole purpose was to allow insiders to purchase face time with Post staff.
Almost immediately following the disclosure, Weymouth canceled the salons, saying, "This should never have happened." White House counsel
Gregory B. Craig reminded officials that under
federal ethics rules, they need advance approval for such events. Post Executive Editor
Marcus Brauchli, who was named on the flier as one of the salon's "Hosts and Discussion Leaders", said he was "appalled" by the plan, adding, "It suggests that access to Washington Post journalists was available for purchase."
China Daily advertising supplements
Dating back to 2011, The Washington Post began to include "China Watch" advertising supplements provided by China Daily, an English language newspaper owned by the
Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party, on the print and online editions. Although the header to the online "China Watch" section included the text "A Paid Supplement to The Washington Post",
James Fallows of The Atlantic suggested that the notice was not clear enough for most readers to see. Distributed to the Post and multiple newspapers around the world, the "China Watch" advertising supplements range from four to eight pages and appear at least monthly. According to a 2018 report by The Guardian, "China Watch" uses "a didactic, old-school approach to propaganda."
In 2020, a report by
Freedom House titled "Beijing's Global Megaphone" was also critical of the Post and other newspapers for distributing "China Watch". In the same year, 35 Republican members of the U.S. Congress wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice in February 2020 calling for an investigation of potential FARA violations by China Daily. The letter named an article that appeared in the Post, "Education Flaws Linked to Hong Kong Unrest", as an example of "articles [that] serve as cover for China's atrocities, including ... its support for the
crackdown in Hong Kong." According to The Guardian, the Post had already stopped running "China Watch" in 2019.
In 1986, five employees (including Newspaper Guild unit chairman Thomas R. Sherwood and assistant Maryland editor
Claudia Levy) sued The Washington Post for overtime pay, stating that the newspaper had claimed that budgets did not allow for overtime wages.
In June 2018, over 400 employees of The Washington Post signed an open letter to the owner Jeff Bezos demanding "fair wages; fair benefits for retirement, family leave and health care; and a fair amount of job security." The open letter was accompanied by video testimonials from employees, who alleged "shocking pay practices" despite record growth in subscriptions at the newspaper, with salaries rising an average of $10 per week, which the letter claimed was less than half the rate of inflation. The petition followed on a year of unsuccessful negotiations between The Washington PostGuild and upper management over pay and benefit increases.
In March 2022, reporter Paul Farhi was suspended for five days without pay after he tweeted about the publication's policy on bylines and datelines regarding Russian-based stories.
In 2020, The Post suspended reporter
Felicia Sonmez after she posted a series of tweets about the
2003 rape allegation against basketball star Kobe Bryant after
Bryant's death. She was reinstated after over 200 Post journalists wrote an open letter criticizing the paper's decision. In July 2021, Sonmez sued The Post and several of its top editors, alleging workplace discrimination; the suit was dismissed in March 2022, with the court determining that Sonmez had failed to make plausible claims. In June 2022, Sonmez engaged in a Twitter feud with fellow Post staffers
David Weigel (criticizing him over what he later described as "an offensive joke") and Jose A. Del Real (who accused Sonmez of "engaging in repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague"). Following the feud, the newspaper suspended Weigel for a month for violating the company's social media guidelines, and the newspaper's executive editor
Sally Buzbee sent out a newsroom-wide memorandum directing employees to "Be constructive and collegial" in their interactions with colleagues. The newspaper fired Sonmez, writing in an emailed termination letter that she had engaged in "misconduct that includes insubordination, maligning your co-workers online and violating The Post's standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity."The Post faced criticism from the Post Guild after refusing to go to arbitration over the dismissal, stating that the expiration of the Post's contract "does not relieve the Post from its contractual obligation to arbitrate grievances filed prior to expiration."
Lawsuit by Covington Catholic High School student
Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann filed a defamation lawsuit against the Post, alleging that it libeled him in seven articles regarding the
January 2019 Lincoln Memorial confrontation between Covington students and the
Indigenous Peoples March. A federal judge dismissed the case, ruling that 30 of the 33 statements in the Post that Sandmann alleged were libelous were not, but allowed Sandmann to file an amended complaint as to three statements. After Sandmann's lawyers amended the complaint, the suit was reopened on October 28, 2019. In 2020, The Post settled the lawsuit brought by Sandmann for an undisclosed amount.
The Post's decision to run an op-ed by
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a leader in
Houthi movement, was criticized by some activists on the basis that it provided a platform to an "anti-Western and
antisemitic group supported by Iran." The headline of a 2020 op-ed titled "It's time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president" was changed, without an editor's note, after backlash.
In 2022, actor
Johnny Depp successfully sued ex-wife
Amber Heard for an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post where she described herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse two years after she had publicly accused him of domestic violence.
Criticism by elected officials
Donald Trump repeatedly spoke out against The Washington Post on
his Twitter account, having "tweeted or retweeted criticism of the paper, tying it to Amazon more than 20 times since his campaign for president" by August 2018. In addition to often attacking the paper itself, Trump used Twitter to blast various Post journalists and columnists.
ombudsman (April 19, 1981),
"THE PLAYERS: It Wasn't a Game"Archived May 26, 2021, at the
Wayback Machine, The Washington Post: " 'I was blown away by the story,' Woodward said. . . . 'Jimmy' was created, lived and vanished in Woodward's shop. . . . Woodward supported the [Pulitzer] nomination strongly. . . .'I think that the decision to nominate the story for a Pulitzer is of minimal consequence. I also think that it won is of little consequence. It is a brilliant story — fake and fraud that it is. It would be absurd for me [Woodward] or any other editor to review the authenticity or accuracy of stories that are nominated for prizes.' "
Richard Cohen Leaves the Washington PostArchived August 9, 2020, at the
Wayback Machine, Washington Post (September 23, 2019): "In the years since he displayed a remarkable ability to survive at the paper despite ...frequently stepping in it with regard to race, like the time he wrote that 'People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children; or the time that he wrote sympathetically about the man who killed Trayvon Martin..."