The Washington Post finalizes purchase of The Pitch

The+Washington+Post+headquarters+at+One+Franklin+Square+in+Washington%2C+D.C..+Crowds+of+WJ+students+gathered+to+celebrate+outside+on+Friday+evening+in+anticipation+of+the+closing+of+the+blockbuster+deal.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Post headquarters at One Franklin Square in Washington, D.C.. Crowds of WJ students gathered to celebrate outside on Friday evening in anticipation of the closing of the blockbuster deal.

Prominent D.C. area newspaper The Washington Post finalized a deal to purchase Walter Johnson High School’s The Pitch newspaper late Friday night, according to sources close to the matter. The move comes as The Post looks to expand its reach into local reporting and onboard new talent amid a difficult hiring landscape.

Reported details of the decision include a $500,000 buyout of journalism teacher Wendy Borelli’s contract with Montgomery County Public Schools, committing her to three years at The Post with a corporate option to extend to a fourth year. It also includes stipulations for the current editorial board members, who are all seniors, to stay back a year as “super seniors” to oversee the transition of assets, funds and resources.

“The deal was just closed … I’m honestly still shocked that it came through,” Print Editor-in-Chief Robert Hsu said. “But I want everyone to know that we’ll be producing the same quality content our readers have come to love – with a much bigger budget.”

As a result of the merger, many of the Pitch’s most popular types of content will receive a boost in funding that will allow a broader range of focus. For example, the popular sports video content series Inside the Den will now be creating “day in the life” videos for every player on every sports team every single day. Print editions of The Pitch will remain separate from the larger print edition of The Post but will now be 60 pages long including a 5 page “state of the school” from Principal Jennifer Baker.

The merger does come with some controversy, however, as the relaxed journalistic standards of The Post will be difficult for The Pitch’s journalists to adjust to.

“We’re now allowed to interview our own staff, which we couldn’t do before. And I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I think we can also give ourselves any title we’d like without any oversight,” Print News Editor Seyun Park, the most respected and celebrated editor on The Pitch, said.

Concerns have been raised about the increased amount of oversight and bureaucracy that may come with being a subsidiary of the news organization. However, reassurances straight from the top have assuaged fears that a wave of layoffs will accompany the purchase.

“I can assure all of you that we will not be instituting massive layoffs at any time,” Executive Chairman of parent company Amazon Jeff Bezos said.

The deal came as a great source of frustration for rival newspapers The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, who had gunned for the critical foothold into the D.C. suburbs for months.

“We understand your anger, your frustration, your sadness. Everything you’re feeling, we get it. This isn’t the ending we imagined and certainly not the one we wanted. Thank you for being there all the way,” New York Times President and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said in a statement to readers as the news broke Friday evening.

At press time The Washington Post has announced that it is instituting massive layoffs on newly onboarded Pitch staff, continuing efforts to streamline the news organization.

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