My friend and colleague Garance Franke-Ruta turned in her ID badge today as she prepares to join the Atlantic. Her departure made me reflect back to her arrival at the Post, three years ago.
Garance’s arrival, in hindsight, marked a turning point for the Post newsroom. Until then, most Posties downtown had little interaction with the Web site. A small band of “continuous-news editors” served as the primary liaisons – updating newspaper stories in the morning and lobbying editors and reporters (often unsuccessfully) for short, early files in the afternoon.
The change started in July 2007 with the dawn of The Trail, a new blog that was to serve as the Post’s compendium of presidential campaign coverage. Until this point, Post blogs originated outside our newsroom – Dan Froomkin on White House Watch and Chris Cillizza on The Fix were based in Arlington; Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham with On Faith were in Georgetown and New York.
The Trail, however, differed in that it had no singular voice – postings were done by all of the Post’s political writers, who typically maintained a neutral tone – and that it originated on 15th Street.
It found an audience almost immediately, which created the nice problem of needing someone to oversee the blog’s care and feeding.
Enter Garance. She had good Washington cred (The American Prospect) and web cred (her own blog, thegarance.com). She also had plenty of drive and gumption, qualities that would serve her well in the new job, as she nudged, urged, begged, guilted reporters into filing dispatches.
The Trail was launched under the aegis of Susan Glasser, and her vision of the blog soon made it one of the most-visited pages of our web site. But it was up to Garance to keep the blog fed.
It’s hard to fully describe the resistance Garance faced when she entered the Post newsroom. She leaves a far different place today, especially in its regard for Web-oriented folks.