The Washington Post looks beyond Washington... and the U.S.

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Marty Baron. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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Peter Sterne

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Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron told C-SPAN that the paper could become a truly international news organization under the leadership of Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos.

Baron made the comments during an interview that is scheduled to air on C-SPAN Sunday at 8 p.m. C-SPAN published two excerpts of the interview on Youtube.

Before Bezos purchased the Post for $250 million in 2013, Baron said, the paper had pursued a strategy focused on local journalism. But Bezos changed all that.

"The strategy in the previous era was articulated as for and about Washington. ... Now, under Jeff Bezos, our strategy is to become a true national news organization, and then maybe even international over time," he said.

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The Post's emphasis on digital — it now receives more monthly unique visitors than The New York Times — allows it to easily reach a national, and even international audience, Baron added.

"We don't have to deliver a newspaper to their doorstep. We don't have to print a newspaper piggy-backing on presses of other newspapers around the country. They can read us on our website, they can read us through Facebook, they can read us through, you know, via Twitter," he said.

The new focus on digital readership is leading to changes in the way that reporters are evaluated. Last month, Baron caused a minor stir when he told The Wall Street Journal that traffic metrics would eventually be considered as part of reporters' performance reviews. Baron expanded on this point during the C-SPAN interview, saying that news organizations have always been concerned about how people are reading them.

"I don't think there's anything terribly radical about it, no matter how that sounds. The reality is that when those of us in the newspaper industry, and I have been in it now for 40 years, those of us who have been in this industry for a long time, when we learned journalism, we were taught journalism that said, how does this work when people read newspapers?" he said. "And so we need to understand how are they reading on digital devices. And it is comparable to what we learned in terms of how do they read newspapers. We need to know how they are reading us."