Washington Post opens tech outpost in New York

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The Washington Post. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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The Washington Post is expanding its New York footprint with the creation of a Manhattan-based design and development office.

The new satellite hub, called WPNYC, will result in more than a dozen new hires including designers, strategists and information architects. The Post will officially announce the launch of WPNYC this morning.

WPNYC will focus on improving the Post’s web platform, making it faster and more reader-friendly. It also involves the development of new and innovative ad products.

"The thing about the site is that it's a very classic legacy media site—a representation of the print medium in digital," said Greg Franczyk, principal architect and director of software engineering, who will run WPNYC with director of digital strategy Sarah Sampsel. "The big thing from a development standpoint is that we're shifting the paradigm to designing a website that works for our users and building the technology that meets the need."

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It's a strategy that reflects the customer experience bona fides of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought the Post from The Washington Post Company for $250 million last fall.

Since then, Bezos has mostly kept his head down as media watchers play parlor games about what sort of radical changes he might have up his sleeve.

In January, Post executive editor Marty Baron announced a plan to grow the editorial operation with roughly a dozen new hires (reporters, photo editors, data visualization specialists, web designers, etc.), a breaking news desk, a Sunday style and arts section and a revamped Sunday magazine.

WPNYC is the first significant infusion of talent to the technology team since Bezos opened up his coffers.

Kristine Coratti, a Post spokeswoman, declined to quantify the dollar amount of that infusion. But she said it's part of "a significant investment across news, technology and sales."

In opening a design and development shop in New York, the venerable D.C. daily gives itself access to the resources of the city's vast tech, design and advertising community.

There are other benefits as well.

"There are a lot of partnership opportunities in New York that we might not necessarily have down here," said Sampsel. "Other media companies, start-ups— there's a whole lot to tap into."

Sampsel, Franczyk and their incoming hires will move into an office downtown that a Post sales force of roughly three dozen already shares with Slate, which is owned by Graham Holdings, the new name of the erstwhile Washington Post Company.

“We have seen great success by embedding a fast-moving engineering team directly in the newsroom," said chief information officer Shailesh Prakash in a statement, "and now we want to foster that same environment of accelerated innovation by embedding engineering within sales in dynamic and vibrant New York City"