My friend and colleague Garance Franke-Ruta turned in her ID badge today, as she heads to the Atlantic. Her tweet about her departure made me reflect back to her arrival, almost exactly three years ago.
Garance’s arrival, in hindsight, marked a turning point for the Post’s print newsroom. Until then, most Posties downtown had little interaction with the Web site, based a few miles away in Arlington. Garance, though, was an online evangelist and played a crucial role in helping persuade a wholly skeptical bunch of ink-stained wretches to, if not love the Web, at least learn to live with it.
The vehicle for this change was The Trail, a new blog that launched in July 2007 to serve as the Post’s compendium of presidential campaign coverage. Until this point, Post blogs tended to originate outside downtown and to be full of sass — Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch and Chris Cillizza’s The Fix were based in Arlington; Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham with On Faith were in Georgetown and New York.
The Trail, however, differed in that it had no singular voice — postings came from all of the Post’s political writers, who typically maintained a neutral tone — and that it originated on 15th Street.
It found an audience almost immediately, which created the nice problem of needing someone to oversee the blog’s care and feeding.
Enter Garance. She had good Washington cred (The American Prospect) and web cred (her own blog, thegarance.com). She also had plenty of drive and gumption, qualities that would serve her well in the new job, as she nudged, urged, begged, guilted reporters into filing dispatches. Importantly, her desk was only a few steps from the political reporters’ pod, which kept her from being overlooked or forgotten and enabled her to join in the political chatter of the day — thus becoming more than a noodge.