washingtonpost.com at 10

Apparently, Saturday was the tenth anniversary of washingtonpost.com, the Web site for The Washington Post. As early as 1992 the newspaper was preparing for the rise of electronic media.

“The Post is not in a pot of water, and we’re smarter than the average frog,” wrote The Washington Post’s then-managing editor. “But we do find ourselves swimming in an electronic sea where we could eventually be devoured — or ignored as an unnecessary anachronism. Our goal, obviously, is to avoid getting boiled as the electronic revolution continues…”

The experiment began in 1995 with the creation of Digital Ink, a Post Company subsidiary which aimed to provide a new, jazzy product separate and distinct from the printed Washington Post. Subscribers could electronically access newspaper content and other original material over AT&T’s Interchange platform. The subscriber-only strategy, however, fell victim to the rise of browser-based applications like Netscape and was discarded in 1996.

Alan Spoon, then-president of the Washington Post Company, recalls being in a cab with Graham in downtown Chicago in late 1995 when they decided it was time to leave the closed, subscriber service. “Alan realized that [the Web] was it,” Kaiser said.

The site only became profitable two years ago, eight years into its existence.

“Don Graham got it from the very beginning,” said Fulton, now the vice president of audience development for The Bakersfield Californian “He understood how powerful a medium it could be and made a huge commitment.” And Kaiser recalls a conversation with Post board member Warren Buffett in which Buffett told Kaiser to stop worrying about the financial side: “There is no case in history of somebody assembling a huge audience and then failing to make money from it,” Kaiser recalls Buffett saying.

The industry leading site now employs 240 staffers, including 65 editorial staff, in an Arlington facility. For years the site has hosted chats with Post editorial staff and recently Technorati and del.icio.us became intergrated into news articles. Blogs, dispite a few hiccups, have also become a vital part of washingtonpost.com’s interaction with readership.

Today, as part of the TEN Internet Years coverage, there are also two interesting columns by Jay Rosen and Patricia Sullivan on what the Web has wrought for the news industry.

One thing though, would have been too much for washingtonpost.com to bundle these two columns with the aritcle above in seperate section front? They knew ten years ago that was a best practiced, as seen in the Len Bias coverage linked to earlier this morning, so why’d they skip it today?

2 Comments so far

  1. PoliticalCritic (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

    Wilbon writes a good article in WaPo on Len Bias. Remembering the incident after 20 years.

  2. Doug (unregistered) on June 20th, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    I say kudos to these guys for having the prescience to see the potential in electronic publishing and especially the Web, particularly at a time when many others considered to be nothing more than a passing fad.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.