By Sean Bradley
I’ve seen “All the President’s Men” at least three times.
Released in 1976, the Alan J. Pakula-directed film is an adaptation of the book by then-Washington Post reporter (now an associate editor) Bob Woodward.
Detailing how he and fellow Post reporter Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal and helped bring down a presidency, the film is an all-time favorite of mine and is one of the many reasons I am in journalism.
So being able to tour the Washington Post on Friday was quite the captivating, enthralling and inspiring experience.
Learning about the paper’s constant efforts to tell the best, most important and informative stories possible as well as thinking outside the box is something I’ve thought about a lot (and try to do in my own work) but was only reaffirmed by sitting in on a news planning meeting and touring the two-floor newsroom.
Sitting in on the meeting showed me how different the news business is today than it was in the time of Woodward and Bernstein.
The extremely diverse makeup of the people attending the meeting was intriguing.
Made up primarily of white and African-American men and women in various age ranges (many appeared to be under 40 years old), the group I saw exchange story ideas, information about the Post’s website and crack the occasional joke was very relaxed yet serious about the goals they wanted to accomplish.
The Scripps Howard Bureau of the 1970s, in contrast to the newsroom I saw Friday, consisted of almost all white males, except for two white women.
No people of color, men or women, were featured.
The diversity of the Scripps Howard Bureau began to change in the 1980s and ‘90s as more men and women of color as well as white women were employed to the Scripps Bureau.
Although this number has dropped to 4,700 employees, 12.4 percent, in 2013, the goal of obtaining diverse perspectives in the news is just as important now as it was then.
With a diverse newsroom comes more perspectives on stories and fresh ideas on improving content, especially as the journalism industry focuses more and more on the Internet and digital devices.
Along with technological changes, stances on hiring others of different ethnicities and genders have changed newsrooms as well.
Seeing the aptly titled hub of the Post newsroom, set in the center of the fifth-floor newsroom, was interesting.
Computers sit on two tables, facing each other in a half circle, while television screens sit above them.
The hub is where the news and information of the day come together.
It is an outward manifestation of the Post’s commitment to a more comprehensive journalism style, taking the reader “further down the rabbit hole” of a story than a regular printed news story, as Tracy Grant, our tour guide and a Post senior editor, put it. Grant is also a newsroom recruiter and Momspeak Columnist for the Post.
Having thought about the concept of convergence in multimedia journalism throughout my time in Central Michigan University’s journalism program (and here in D.C. too), it was a really interesting experience to see a place where all of the journalistic principles I’ve studied thus far come together on a daily basis.
There will always be a need to talk through story ideas in a newsroom and to figure out the best way to tell the story to get across its importance and relevance.
Adding elements such as videos and photos to accompany a written story and using Twitter and Facebook, for example, to enhance its coverage only makes the story all the more interesting.
Imagine if Woodward and Bernstein had a platform such as Twitter to relay the information that helped bring down a presidency.
I’ve always thought that journalism isn’t dying but transitioning into a new era.
Where that era ultimately takes the task of information gathering and all it encompasses is yet to be seen, but getting to see a place that makes history every day and the people who make it happen is pretty inspiring.
I’m on track to graduate in the spring and seeing the Washington Post up close and first-hand inspires me and gives me hope for the industry and my place in it.
It’s neat what they’re doing and, wherever I end up, I’ll keep what I learned there with me and take myself further down the rabbit hole that is journalism.