Marty Baron, editor of The Washington Post – and before that, The Boston Globe and Miami Herald – include it. Under his leadership, those papers won 17 Pulitzer Prize, with issues such as the reinstatement of Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez; violation of the law by the NSA; and animal educators in Boston, as seen in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.”
“He was made famous in that movie, ‘Spotlight’; he’s a hero,” said “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl.
“Well, my heroes are the people I work with,” Baron replied.
“Are you shy?”
“I’m embarrassed, yes … this is not a one-man show here,” he said.
When Stahl visited Baron in the Washington Post newsroom in February, it really looked like a one-man show. “I have never seen anyone but you in this building today,” Stahl said. “This is absolutely nothing. This is COVID.”
“Absolutely,” Baron said. “Everyone has been working from home. It’s been a lot since March 10.”
Editor Marty Baron, and journalist Lesley Stahl, in the Washington Post newsroom that was emptied of the epidemic. CBS NEWS
Even before COVID looked sterile in a new, modern newsroom. Baron said, “The old newspaper offices had a lot of charm, history, pollution, grease, grunge,” he laughed. “My first newsroom, there were Underwood typewriters and we worked on that. And you’d hear people working. A lot of old characters, you don’t get them anymore.”
“Aren’t you an old character?” Asks Stahl.
“No, I’m old, and I’m a character,” he laughed, “but I don’t know that I’m an ‘old man.'”
Since her friends and colleagues could not celebrate the 66-year-old actor’s departure, they anointed her (and roasted) her with a farewell tape. [Stahl joins: “You can’t hang it at 66, I mean, Marty, President Biden is 78 years old!”]
Asked why he was retiring, Baron replied, “I’m 66 years old. I’ve been in this business for 45 years. It’s a tedious job. We’ve been very worried, say, four to six years ago, and on the Internet, where you should always work. all the time. It’s stressful. “
Veteran news editor Marty Baron, retired from The Washington Post. CBS NEWS
“We’re emphasizing it now that we’re in the digital age?” asked Stahl.
“People expect to know the details, like, right away.”
“You must be the first?”
“We’d like to be the first, yes.”
They are not new digital subscriptions (that could be The New York Times), but the Washington Post is the second most impressive, with three million subscribers – more than three times the paper when Baron took eight years ago, just months before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the property.
Stahl asked, “What about Jeff Bezos? Is that the reason the Washington Post has increased its coverage as it is?”
“There is no question that Jeff Bezos has been instrumental in our change,” he said. “We needed new ideas, and he came in with new ideas.”
“Money,” Stahl intervened.
“We’ll talk about money, but I think it’s important to…”
“Money wasn’t the most important thing?”
“No,” said Baron, “money was not the most important thing, in my opinion. The most important thing was a fundamental change in our strategy. Until then, we had focused on consolidating the district near Washington. And so, when Jeff arrived, he said, ‘This strategy what you have may have been right in the past, but it is not right today. ‘ And now, we have the opportunity to be international and international because we don’t have to distribute your papers anywhere. We can do it numerically. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can read The Washington Post. “
Stahl said, “I didn’t see that when he bought The Washington Post he still had a plan. He had learned this, he came to you with a plan?”
“No question. I mean, you’re reading!” Baron laughed. “He did his research.”
In the last 15 years, more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. – five out of five – out of business. Local news is difficult. It’s become a wilderness of news there.
Stahl asked, “Is the response of the newspapers today to find sugar?”
“Not all newspapers will get sugar, so that’s not the answer,” Baron replied. “Not enough sugar daddies.”
“Should they try? Should they go on a date?”
“It’s okay for them, if they can get it, hey! There was an old saying in this business: ‘Do you know what you call a millionaire who got a media organization? You’re a millionaire!'”
Turning the Post into a national and international paper, Bezos has made a $ 250 million investment, allowing double its staff in the newsroom, from 580 to more than a thousand, and adding ready-to-use online graphics and videos. However, the biggest story four years ago was a Washington story:
“They are really human enemies,” President Trump said. “False news, the enemy of the people. They really exist, they are very bad.”
Stahl said, “So, let me ask you what it was like to walk around wearing your shirt, ‘you are an enemy of the people’?”
Baron said, “Well, the moment Donald Trump said it was the moment I realized he was going to stand up for anything in his attempt to destroy the media for free in this country.”
“But as the editor-in-chief of The Washington Post, didn’t you feel obligated to answer for him? Defend? Tell the public, ‘That’s wrong, isn’t that true?”
“Of course. And we did that.”
Baron, who often speaks well, decided to raise his voice. In a 2018 appearance at the National Press Club, Baron said, “Democracy will not die in the dark, the Washington Post is all around.”
He told Stahl, “It was important for me, personally to go out and talk about the media, to talk about our role, to clarify what our purpose is, and why we have a free media in this country. Why the First Amendment exists!”
Last May, Baron spoke to a Harvard University graduate class, telling them:
“Facts and facts are matters of life and death. False information, misinformation, deception and deception can be deadly. Here’s what can move us: Science and medicine. Learning and knowledge. Art and thinking. In other words, truth and truth.”
In a section of the newspaper called “Fact-Checker,” the Post listed everything the former president said as “false or misleading.” “There are more than 30,000 false and misleading statements, and some are false,” Baron said.
The wall of Baron’s office is lined with notes of gratitude. Stahl said, “You know, in our office, we only post hate mail. It’s true! So, why do you only post good ones?”
“Our employees have received a lot of threats, a lot of bad emails, and I think it’s important that our employees realize that there is a big part of the people who appreciate you doing it,” he replied.
“You? Have you received death threats? Death threats?”
“I’ve received threats of all kinds, of course,” Baron said.
Asked how we changed after four years of Trump’s presidency and the year of the deadly epidemic, Baron said, “I think we are looking at things from a different perspective. There is a great sense of danger. People have never thought of a pandemic before. I think we realize that democracy can be threatened in ways that were not previously thought. “
“And when we start thinking about ourselves as vulnerable people, everything changes,” Stahl said.
“Our own nature?”
“I think that’s right,” Baron said. “But maybe that’s a good thing – maybe we should understand that these institutions are much weaker than we thought they were. And maybe it wakes us up as a country.”