Is The Washington Post Losing Itself?

Thank God for the New York Times, the Atlantic and the New Yorker. They (we) all have their problems, but these publications are indispensable because they maintain their standards even in a vicious advertising climate, and in a period when the superficial seems to have triumphed over the serious. Editorial decisions are made at these publications based on what is important and true, not on what is popular. (A good example is the Atlantic's cover story this month by Andrew Sullivan on torture.)  The Washington Post, alas, seems to be a different story, at least on occasion. The Post's publisher, the accident-prone Katharine Weymouth, seems to have an aversion to "depressing" stories, an aversion that may have led to the spiking of one such piece for The Washington Post Magazine, about a woman who lost all her limbs. (For a full accounting of the controversy, see Jack Shafer.)

I hope that this latest incident represents (another) hiccup as the Post figures out its future (one suggestion: Don't let John Harris leave the paper. Oh, wait.). But in this Daily Beast world we live in, who can be sure? I'm sure about The Atlantic, however: For 152 years, the Atlantic has done the right thing -- long-form, narrative journalism that exposes sin and corruption and holds powerful people accountable and at the same time enlightens and, yes, even entertains. There is no doubt in my mind that the current leadership of The Atlantic will maintain the magazine's righteous course, even if newspapers like The Post lose their way.