Following up on Christian Josi’s congratulations to Sam Dealey on his selection as editor of The Washington Times, I’d urge Dealey to begin by making sure the paper stops getting scooped on its own exclusives. During the later years of my decade in the Times‘ newsroom, it became annoyingly common to learn of major personnel changes via Fishbowl DC. More recently, Talking Points Media became the chief outlet for the paper’s newsroom gossip.
That Dealey’s hiring got tipped first to U.S. News is a continuation of this pattern. For some odd reason, the paper’s human resources director sent out an e-mail to Times employees late Friday night with this statement:
Dear Times Employees,
Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Sam Dealey, appointed as the Editor of The Washington Times. Our recent changes have now aligned us with market forces for our newspaper and multimedia company to best serve the American people as an independent news and opinion voice.
An attached news release, dated Monday, Feb. 1, contained most of what was in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Whispers” item, so that the Times got scooped on its own story. The press release also contains these quotes:
“This is a tremendous opportunity to help shape the future of a great newspaper that is transitioning to meet the challenges of the 21st century media market,” Dealey said. . . .
“We are proud to welcome Sam to the Washington Times after an intensive nationwide search,” said President and Publisher Jonathan Slevin. “Sam is a talented and accomplished journalist and the right person to lead our newsroom as The Times continues to serve as an independent watchdog for the American people. We are honored to respond to the local, national and global demand for reliable and
trustworthy information with a Washington, DC-based news company that can adapt with speed and flexibility to meet the audience and business needs of the 21st century.”
The most astonishing fact, of course, is that Dealey is only 36 — two years younger than I was when I joined the Washington Times‘ staff as an assistant editor on the national desk in November 1997. Beyond reminding me of my incipient geezerhood (I was already working my third newspaper job by the time Dealey started high school in 1987), this inspired me to offer some insights:
Running any daily newspaper is a tremendous managerial challenge, and the Washington Times is certainly more challenging than most. D.C. is a very competitive news environment and being the underdog paper, going up against the Post every day, requires an extraordinary degree of mental toughness. Former editor-in-chief Wes Pruden’s long tenure in the job was as much a testimony to his cast-iron temperament as to his journalistic ability.
Let’s hope Dealey can survive the fiery furnace at 3600 New York Avenue. Prayer requests on his behalf are most certainly in order.