NPR logo Update: 'Washington Post' Cancels 'Salons' For Lobbyists


Update: 'Washington Post' Cancels 'Salons' For Lobbyists

10:10 p.m. ET: This post began with the news from Politico that The Washington Post was planning private "salons" where lobbyists could meet with members of Congress, the Obama administration and journalists from the Post's newsroom — if those lobbyists would shell out $25,000 to sponsor one of the 11 events (or $250,000 for all 11).

Then we updated to say that the newspaper's editor had killed the idea of any of the Post's journalists taking part.

Now, as Politico reports, the whole thing is off.

Publisher Katharine Weymouth says, though, that she still thinks there's a way for the Post to bring powerful folks together — and presumably generate some revenue — without sacrificing its integrity.

Here's how we started this report at 10:15 a.m. ET and the developments earlier today:

The Washington Post is offering — for $25,000 to $250,000 — to bring lobbyists together with members of the Obama administration, Congress and the Post's own newsroom, Politico reports.

Politico's Mike Allen, one of Washington's most plugged-in reporters and someone who worked at the Post for six years, says a "flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist" promises an "intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon" during an "off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth."

It also guarantees "a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds."

And, the hosts and discussion leaders (at the first salon) will be "health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post."

The cost to be a sponsor and get a seat at the table: $25,000 each or $250,000 for all 11 planned "salons."

Politico says it is awaiting a response from the Post about whether this is or is not a breach of journalistic and governmental ethics. But we don't have to wait for the Post to say something to gauge what Two-Way readers think:

Update at noon ET. The Post's editor now says reporters and editors won't be taking part in the salons.

Media Bistro's FishbowlDC blog has a copy of a memo sent out this morning by Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. He declares that:

The language in the flyer and the description of the event preclude our participation.

We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchange for money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrain from confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable.

Politico says the Post's newsroom was "in an uproar." And it says Kris Coratti, communications director for Washington Post Media, issued this statement:

The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company's vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.

As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this. We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business, and that The Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity. The newsroom will participate where appropriate.

So, it would appear the Post's journalists, at least, are in line with the majority of Two-Way voters.