Post Loosens Purse Strings for Convention
Talk at the Washington Post all year long has centered on cuts. A wave of buyouts shrunk the staff; the publisher wrote a memo raising the possibility of layoffs; a planned digital-print merger will reduce staff redundancy.
Yet all the parsimony is taking a late-August vacation in deference to convention coverage. The head count for Posties in Denver is in the mid-50s, a contingent replete with tons of reporters, editors, and dot-com people. The traveling team certainly appears deep enough to continue with the overkill coverage that the paper has cranked out over the past couple of days.
Logistical challenges attach to such a large journalistic platoon: The Post's administrators apparently had trouble putting everyone up at the same hotel. Instead, they spread the staffers among several spots, including the Cherry Creek Hotel, the Denver Marriott Tech Center, and the Hampton Inn & Suites.
Check that: They spread the foot soldiers to those three hotels–that is, editorial board writers, national editors and reporters, Style people, etc.
For Publisher and Washington Post Media Chief Executive Officer Katharine Weymouth, Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., and Managing Editor Phil Bennett, swankier digs were reserved: Hotel Monaco, an "eclectic luxury hotel experience" with only the finest robes, great attention to decor, and room prices topping out around $500. Here's what one online reviewer had to say about the Monaco experience:
Too bad the hotel didn't send us anything while we were chillin in the jacuzzi with no goodies! As far as the hotel is concerned, everything was clean and beautiful. The bed was really comfortable, and the decor is extremely unique. The wine gathering was fun, and the complimentary chair massages were AWESOME!
Possible complimentary chair massage recipient Downie said he played no part in picking his accommodations: "I stay where assigned." And possible complimentary chair massage recipient Weymouth played up the same deus ex machina notion when asked about her reservation: "As for the hotel, to be completely honest, I didn't know it was plush. Completely delegated the hotel arrangements to the newsroom and happy to stay anywhere," noted Weymouth, who wrote via e-mail that her agenda in Denver is to "tag along" with reporters and editors.
Though the top dogs were happy to discuss their arrangements, others in the Post get upset when hotel information leaks. One administrator sent this note out to colleagues: "It has come to my attention that our convention housing information was passed on to the City Paper.
My messages are for planning purposes only and I would appreciate it if it was kept that way from now on."
And National Editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran reached out to Washington City Paper, warning that its journalistic reputation was on the line with this little blog post. "I think it’s irresponsible for the City Paper to print the names of hotels where Washington Post staff members are staying connected to those staff members," Chandrasekaran fumed.
When asked why, Chandrasekaran said this: "Reasonable people can conclude the reasons why it’s not responsible to print details like that in the newspaper."
Then Chandrasekaran–a Marriott guy–will want to have a word or two with Metro reporter David Nakamura, who in a recent blog post revealed the following details:
*D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is staying at the Westin.
*The D.C. delegation is staying at the Crowne Plaza.
*Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is staying at the Crowne Plaza, along with his son. So is Mark Warner. So is the Virginia delegation.