The once-cautious Washington Post has begun to invest heavily in the liberal blogosphere, transforming its online presence – a combination of accident and design – into a competitor of the Huffington Post and TalkingPointsMemo as much as the New York Times.
The Post’s foray into the new media world received some unfavorable attention last weekend when its latest hire, Dave Weigel, who covers conservatives, referred to gay marriage foes as “bigots.” But the resulting controversy brought into relief a larger shift: The Post now hosts three of the strongest liberal blogs on the Internet, and draws a disproportionate share of its traffic and buzz from them, a significant change for a traditional newspaper that has struggled to remake itself.
Besides Weigel, who came from the liberal Washington Independent, the Post also has Ezra Klein, hired last May from the American Prospect to bring his brand of deliberately wonky policy writing to its website; and Greg Sargent, who the paper said Tuesday will soon move to the Post itself after coming from TPM to run a political blog for the Post-owned website, WhoRunsGov.com, as well as two editors recently hired from the Huffington Post to handle online aggregation and social networking.
Post National Editor Kevin Merida said the Post is simply trying to respond to the demands of a new online audience.
“The web is a place where people want to come to the news of the day and developments in the political world and public policy from different vantage points, so you’re trying to offer people online a pretty robust smorgasbord,” he said, noting that the paper – sharply criticized from the left for its support for the Iraq war and other editorial opinions – has always carried opinion columns.