The Washington Post has named Matea Gold as national editor and Philip Rucker as deputy national editor, with plans to expand the department in a drive toward more visual storytelling.
Gold succeeds Steven Ginsberg, who was named one of the Post’s managing editors last month. Gold had served as acting national editor since then.
Rucker, co-author of the recent I Alone Can Fix It with Carol Leonnig and an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, is moving to a management role.
“We’re really going to double down on our ability to assess the state of democracy at this time and the stresses that are being put at that at every level,” Gold said in an interview. “We see this as a singular important focus for the national staff at this moment, and I think Phil and I are really united in our sense that this is a singular moment for the country.”
Rucker said that there is a priority in “finding innovative storytelling techniques and ways to reach readers who are not paying attention right now. So much about the threat to democracy, we have to find ways to get that information in front of new audiences and new readers and engage them beyond just the written word.”
This week, the Post announced Rachel Van Dongen as director of elections, a new position.
The Post also is seeking a visual enterprise editor for national. Gold said that editor “is going to be part of the discussions about how we approach the different lines of reporting, what’s the best way to tell a story, how can we use audio and photos and videos and design in a way to captivate readers to make sure they don’t look away.” As an example, she pointed to America In Line, in which the Post sent photographers and reporters around the country to wait with people as they stood in line to vote.
“We used the text messages they sent in real time to their friends, as they described why they were waiting,” she said. “That spoke to their commitment to citizenship, in a way that was so moving and compelling.”
Gold was the lead editor and Rucker was one of the anchor writers for The Attack, a multimedia narrative investigation about the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, and it generated five million page views.
She said that in 2020, the Post deployed 56 reporters around the country on Election Day, and 10 reporters were focused on the election challenges. For the midterms, “I think that the story is even bigger this time, and we’re just going to need more resources, and to be thinking about it much further ahead. That is part of the planning we are doing right now.”
Rucker talked of finding creative ways to take the Post’s investigative journalism “and presenting that information in more digestible and accessible formats, so that so many more of our readers, even if they only have 30 seconds to engage with The Washington Post , or 90 seconds to engage with our mobile app, that they are getting that information and they are absorbing what our reporters in the field are finding and learning.”
Gold previously was the national political enterprise and investigations editor, and before that was a national political reporter covering money and influence. Rucker was senior Washington correspondent and before that was White House bureau chief and served as national political correspondent.
She said that “there’s no question that bringing a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds to our newsroom is one of the most essential tasks. We have made a lot of progress, we still have more to do.” She said that “goes not just for bringing in diversity from outside the newsroom, but taking advantage of different perspectives we have inside the newsroom.” She also cited staff working groups to advise on different ideas. “One of our goals is really to form a really inclusive culture of support in the newsroom. It’s a time when journalists are so incredibly stressed,” pointing to the pandemic and the isolation of working at home.
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