The recent announcement by Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. of his impending retirement raises questions about the future of that eminent newspaper, and about what the coming decade holds for newspapers in general, that I plan to discuss before long. In the meantime the District’s alternative weekly, the Washington City Paper, has offered some well-informed and insightful discussion of the changes at the Post. Here is a recent article (published before Downie’s announcement) discussing the economic strategy behind the paper’s comprehensive buyouts in recent months, accompanied by a partly redacted but still instructive chart originating within the paper’s inner sanctum. And this recent post from the City Paper blog looks at some leading candidates to succeed Downie, among them Time’s David Von Drehle and Marcus Brauchli, formerly of the Wall Street Journal.
Something not widely mentioned in the many articles about Downie’s departure, but which may have influenced his timing, is that his first novel, The Rules Of The Game, will be published in January, four months after he moves on. It’s described as – surprise – a tale of power and politics in the shadow of the Capitol. When word came of Downie’s venture into fiction last spring, the City Paper took the occasion to ostensibly devote a cover story to the question of what constitutes The Great Washington Novel. Unfortunately, the piece dwindles into boilerplate reviews of some recently published books with a DC setting, but the comments posted below the article offer some interesting suggestions about notable Beltway fiction.