New and improved: The revamped Sunday Post

Jan 24, 2011

Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor of The Washington Post, and Kevin Sullivan, Sunday and Features Editor, will be online Monday, Jan. 24, at Noon ET to discuss the revamped Sunday Post, including new content sections with more news and features about arts and culture.

Welcome to the chat. We're happy to be here to talk about our Sunday changes and answer any questions you might have.

Was this done for the reader or to reduce cost?

This actually increases our costs, but we see it as an investment in our journalism and our readers. We often hear complaints from readers that we have taken features away from the Sunday paper. This is an effort to expand the paper by adding new sections and content. It's expensive to do that, but we think it's worth it. We  hope readers will as well.

It appears that a number of subscribers did not get the new sections/content on Saturday or Sunday. Was there a distribution problem?

As you can imagine, the distribution of hundreds of thousands of papers across a broad geographical area is a complex process. Changing it isn't easy, and we did have some problems over the weekend. Most of them were in outlying areas, but we had a few problems in close-in neighborhoods as well. Our Circulation Department is working hard to iron out the kinks in the new system and they hope to have things settled soon. In the meantime, we're sorry for the inconvenience and we hope readers will be patient with us. If you have had problems with your delivery, please contact our circulation department at 202-334-6100.

Where do I send info on deals I find? Can't find the e-mail address anywhere on the post online site. It would be great if someone could send text messages to alert everyone when a new deal is found or an app.

Thanks for this. We hope that Dealhunter, a new feature in Sunday Style, will grow into a community of deal-seekers, and we encourage participation by our readers. If you have a deal you think Holly Thomas should hear about, please let her know at Your idea about text messages or an app is also interesting, and something we should look into. Thanks for your suggestions.

As a recovering newspaperman, I am curious about why the Post made the changes in the weekend editions. What is in it for you? Some possibilities spring to mind: Maybe you want to draw a younger audience. Maybe publishing Arts and Style earlier gives readers more time to plan their weekend activities. Maybe there is an advantage in drawing advertising. What are the reasons?

You'll never recover fully! To your questions, the Sunday Post continues to be our premier showcase for our journalism. It's the paper with the largest circulation and the one readers spend the most time with. We hear from many subscribers about how the Sunday Post has been a family tradition for generations. We have always regarded Sunday as a great day to publish some of our best and most ambitious work, from investigations to features. The Sunday paper is also an important part of our business, so of course it makes economic sense as well to make it as good as it can possibly be. For all those reasons, adding more and better coverage to Sunday is a good idea. It also makes sense, as you note, to deliver these feature sections on Saturday to give readers more time to read and plan their weekends. We are not specifically gearing anything toward any one group of readers, and we think that the changes should appeal to readers across the spectrum. As I said earlier, this is an investment in the Sunday paper and our journalism, and we hope readers enjoy it.

Just a compliment: I think the redesign (especially of the business section) and the decision to deliver more sections on Saturday are both quite nice. Now if only there was a subscription package for Weekends+Federal Holidays...

 Thanks for the compliment, and we're glad you like the new sections and delivery. At the moment, we don't offer a weekend-plus-holiday subscription package. But thanks for the suggestion, and maybe it is something we should consider in the future.

As a local writer, I applaud you for adding the "Literary Life" column to the new Arts section. At the same time, I'd like to encourage you to include poetry and literary events in your expanded coverage of local Arts events. The D.C. area has a lively literary scene, with readings and performances taking place nearly every night of the year, ranging from book readings to poetry slams to "spoken word" performances. I would love to hear your response to this idea.

Thanks for the note. We'd very much like to do more with the local literary scene. As you know, we publish listings each week of book-related events in the Book World section of Outlook. We also publish listings in Weekend. We'll check to be sure we're listing these events and look for opportunities to write about them.

I was distressed to see no Museum or Gallery coverage in The Sunday Post. What is your plan to feature and promote the arts in Washington, D.C.?

Museums and galleries are a main focus of the arts community in Washington, and that will be reflected in our new Arts section. We did carry a review of the "Black Box" show at the Hirshhorn Museum in the section yesterday. We have also added a new digest of news items from local arts institutions, and we will continue to intensely cover local theater, dance, music, visual arts, architecture and other art forms. A key reason for these changes was to better reflect the vibrancy of the local arts scene.

I like the expanded coverage of books and the arts in the revamped Sunday Post. But I want to ask you both about the ombudsman's correct observation that The Post is increasingly rife with typos, grammatical errors and small factual errors. I have found that to be true as well. Online, it is even worse. I see typos in major headlines on a regular basis that sometimes take hours to fix. You have no easy way to report those, either. Has the paper laid off too many copy editors? Do copy editors even get to see the online-only material? Do you as Post honchos care? I worry about the other things he mentioned, e.g., the decline in local news. However the carelessness with copy, spelling, grammar, factchecking, etc., is a wearying drain on the reader, almost daily.

Thank you for the kind words on our expanded coverage of arts. The ombudsman is right that there have been too many careless errors lately--typos, grammatical errors, silly factual mistakes. I don't want to make excuses, because we shouldn't tolerate these sorts of errors. But by way of explanation I will say that we have made a number of changes in our processes in the last couple of years and are putting in a new editing system that will further change workflows for editors. We try to be diligent about publishing corrections, and the data are interesting: we published 1,054 corrections in 2010, up from 1,040 a year earlier and 961 in 2008, but down from a recent high of 1,319 in 2005. We have room to improve.

Hello! Did I read that correctly, that there will no longer be a main Saturday news section in the Post? If so, do you think that will affect (i.e., increase) the "dumping" of unfavorable news stories on Friday afternoon?

Thanks for the question. The Saturday paper will absolutely continue to arrive as it always has. There are no plans to do away with it. The Post is a 24/7 news operation now, on platforms from the Web to mobile to the iPad, and a 7-day a week print newspaper is still a cornerstone of what we do.

I was so excited to see the tabloid format insert, thinking Book World had returned in it's previous format. Alas, not. WHY NOT? I like to pull that section and read it separately, and through the week, if I wish. Having book reviews scattered thither and yon, and throughout not only the paper but the week, is not helpful to readers. I'm not alone, I'm sure.

Alas, we are in a business, and the business requires us to produce a product that our advertisers will support. It is true that we publish nearly as many book reviews and as much book news as we did in the stand-alone Book World section. But those reviews are now in sections that, on the whole, are advertising supported. If we gathered the reviews into a section with no advertising--and Book World suffered from a rather dire absence of advertising--we'd have to produce additional content for the sections that lost the books coverage and fund Book World as a stand-alone entity. In this age, when so many of our readers come to us digitally, we can't justify spending the money to organize the existing books coverage in that way, knowing that many readers never even see the print edition. The closest we can come, realistically,  is publishing quarterly stand-alone Book World special editions on holiday books, or summer reading, or children's books. 

Your rural readers or perhaps anyone that supports their local community stores can no longer enjoy half of the Sunday paper. This is a loss. My family purchases the Post daily. Today for $2.50 half the paper is missing. This change is absurd.

You should be able to buy a Sunday Post, with all the new sections included, at any store that sells the newspaper. We have had some problems adjusting our delivery system to the changes during this first weekend. But hopefully by next weekend we'll have these glitches worked out. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the plan is to include all sections in all newsstand copies of the Sunday paper. Thanks for your patience! And if you have other questions about delivery, please call our circulation department at 202-334-6100.

If its published and delivered on Saturday, why do you continue to call it "Sunday"?

If you're a newsstand buyer, you'd get the whole package on Sunday. Home-delivery subscribers have long received much of the paper on Saturdays, to give them more time to spend with the many sections. (And I suppose there's an element of tomorrow's-news-today marketing to it, just as there is with magazines that put dates on their covers that always seem weeks or months hence.)

Given that the Style Invitational has run under the Empress's byline for many years, why in the world did management now decide that it was "necessary" to break with tradition and "out" Pat Myers in the new Sunday Style section?

We thought it was time for Pat to get a little credit for the amazing work she does on the Style Invitational. Nobody in the building works harder or is more loyal to her readers. And, as I suspect you know, those readers return that loyalty by the bucketload. Maybe it's the wrong call, but it makes us happy to see Pat getting the recognition she deserves. For any of you who haven't experienced the Style Invitational, one of the most original features out there, we urge you to take a look. It's on the back page of the new Sunday Style section.

My daughter (age 9) and I missed the real Mini-Page. And the back page of the new KidsPost section was just an advertisement. Why did you drop the Mini Page?

First, and most importantly, thanks and kudos to your 9-year-old daughter for being a newspaper reader! That's impressive, and please let her know that we in the newspaper business applaud her. She's the future, and we want to deliver a paper that has content that appeals to her. That said, we think KidsPost is a better alternative than the MiniPage. While that feature is excellent and has lot of fans, it naturally has the sensibilities of a nationally syndicated feature. KidsPost is more locally focused, produced by Washington Post journalists for a Washington Post audience. This weekend's very cool trading cards featuring photos and information about the new lion cubs at the National Zoo is an example of local content for our readers. We think we have kept many of the most popular features of the MiniPage, including the puzzles, jokes and even recipes as a complement to our KidsPost coverage. This week's back page was an ad, but many weeks there will be four full pages of news content. And that will be in addition to the four days a week of KidsPost in the daily Style section. We hope that all adds up to a plus for your daughter and other young readers. 

Okay, clearly the Post has completely gone off the rails. Sunday's Style section arriving on Saturday is a mangling of language and logic. I love reading the newspaper. I'm a daily subscriber, I'm always smothered in newsprint, heck, I even have a journalism degree. And I loathe the new Post like few things I have ever loathed. The sort of people who have a newspaper arrive at the same time and place every day tend to like their routines: for me, it's a big paper and a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, not some Mickey Mouse kiddie paper with drastically slashed content so I can receive my Sunday sections on Saturday. Put it back! It's not too late to admit that it's a ridiculous idea. And, no, I'm not some "get off my lawn" fuddy-duddy. For starters, I'm only 34. And if the Post is going to stay viable, management should be listening to people like me. I want to subscribe for decades to come but I have become disenchanted with the lazy mistakes and random revamps that continually drag down the paper's quality.

Sorry the new approach doesn't work for you. The idea of delivering part of the Sunday paper early isn't a new one; The Post has delivered sections of the Sunday paper on Saturday for years. Other papers, including the New York Times in its home market, do the same thing. We hear from many readers who appreciate the package of sections they get on Saturday. We also didn't slash the content in Sunday's paper; we increased it. We've bolstered arts and features coverage. I hope you'll take the time to read the paper in coming weeks and judge us by what we produce.

Did I miss it or is the Post not including the wedding section on Sundays?

On Love, the very popular weddings feature written by Ellen McCarthy, will appear every week in the Sunday Style section, alongside the engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements.

I often wondered why I couldn't get fun Style articles on Saturday and had to wait until Sunday (thus cutting out an entire day of freetime I could use to enjoy my paper). Glad to see the change.

Thank you! Many of our readers tell us the same thing: they don't have enough time to read the Sunday paper. This is an effort to respond to that reality, and to be more useful to people who lead increasingly busy lives.

When will the Post have an Android app?

Thanks for the interest. We're working on one and hope to have something soon.

Thanks for all the excellent questions. We know you will have more in the weeks ahead. Please feel free to let us know about any circulation problems that persist at 202-334-6100. And we're happy to take any and all questions at Thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us today.

In This Chat
Marcus Brauchli
Marcus Brauchli is Executive Editor of The Washington Post.
Kevin Sullivan
Kevin Sullivan is Sunday and Features Editor of The Washington Post.
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