The Sunday Edition

How Donald Trump made The Washington Post profitable again

Marty Baron, executive editor at the Washington Post, talks to Michael Enright about covering Trump, and the evolution of journalism in the digital age.
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron says there has been a growing demand for accountability journalism among readers. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Listen35:15

Marty Baron has overseen many big stories during his journalism career.

At the Boston Globe, his reporters' coverage of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal won a Pulitzer Prize and was dramatized in the Academy Award-winning film, Spotlight.
Actor Liev Schreiber (L) and Marty Baron attend the "Spotlight" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Schreiber played Marty Baron, who is now executive editor of the Washington Post. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
 

Before his time in Boston, Baron was the executive editor of the Miami Herald in 2000, leading coverage of the Elian Gonzalez drama and the disputed election results in Florida, which ultimately ended with George W. Bush declared the winner over Al Gore.

Now, he's executive editor at the Washington Post, just in time for the most controversial presidency since Richard Nixon's. 

The people who are subscribing to us, the people who represent the real financial growth at our company, are people who want accountability journalism — holding our government officials accountable and holding other powerful individuals accountable.- Marty Baron

Under Baron's watch, the Post has become one of President Trump's chief antagonists, breaking countless stories about alleged links between Trump's inner circle and Russian tampering in the 2016 election, about turmoil and dissension within White House staff, and about Trump's finances, intemperate behaviour and various alleged misdeeds. 

It has meticulously and tirelessly fact-checked the Commander-in-Chief's often veracity-challenged comments. 

The Post has won three straight Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting, and like its friendly rival, The New York Times, has been revitalized by the Trump phenomenon. 

The Post now has more than a million subscribers and has even become profitable — something that was supposed to be a thing of the past for newspapers.

In conversation with The Sunday Edition's Michael Enright, Baron attributes this recent success to a growing demand for accountability journalism.

"The people who are subscribing to us, the people who represent the real financial growth at our company, are people who want accountability journalism — holding our government officials accountable and holding other powerful individuals accountable."

Inside the new Washington Post headquarters. In 2013, the newspaper was bought by Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, from its long-time owners, the Graham family. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, he says, journalists themselves have also been reinvigorated. 

"I think the attacks on journalism and the attacks on individual journalists have deeply offended people who work in the profession who are committed to telling the truth, who are doing a serious job, and who are dedicated to the mission of journalism. And it's caused people to rededicate themselves to that mission."

"(But) no matter who we're covering, no matter the attacks on us, we have an obligation to be fair and to be honest and to be honourable," Baron adds. "That is core to who we are. We're constantly evaluating ourselves as to whether we're being fair to the president, being fair to his allies, being fair to that point of view."

Baron says the first principle of the Washington Post, posted on their newsroom wall, is "to tell the truth as nearly as the truth may be ascertained."

"When you see wrongdoing or falsehoods on the part of powerful individuals, including the people who are leading the country — and maybe especially the people who are leading the country — we have an obligation to investigate that as energetically and aggressively as we possibly can."

Click 'listen' above to hear the full interview.