From his note to CQ:
Just shy of 22 years ago, a reporter on the front end of middle age arrived at Congressional Quarterly with dreams of a career in Washington journalism. Like many who came before and after him, he saw CQ as an ideal place to learn the ropes, develop an expertise and showcase his potential — most hopefully to one of the big newspaper bureaus that to him signified the apotheosis of the profession.
From his first day on the job, he was struck by the caliber of his newsroom colleagues and the intensity of their work habits. They did not just work hard, they spent their days with a seriousness of purpose that impressed everyone around them. Each morning they blanketed Capitol Hill hallways and committee rooms pursuing answers to their most pressing questions, pausing in the press galleries to share pieces of information that, bit by bit, added to their amazing knowledge of Congress and its key players.
CQ was a much smaller place then, with maybe 20 reporters in all, but it didn’t take long for a new recruit to feel that he was in special company — and part of it. When he introduced himself to a senator on the subway shuttle below the Capitol, the senator said, “Oh, yes, I’ve read your work.” That’s not the reaction you get in Memphis or Pittsburgh. In Washington, a CQ byline was a sign of respect and no small amount of authority.
As such, the CQ newsroom was a launching pad for many of the reporters and editors who practice their craft in today’s top news organizations, from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal to National Public Radio. The CQ alumni network is pervasive; their work ethic and values, standards for the industry.
But as it turned out, CQ itself was also a place where a journalist could realize many ambitions. That was a product of its founders, Nelson and Henrietta Poynter, and their successor editors and business leaders — most notably the current president, Robert Merry. Each had a vision for the company that rewarded creative thinking and unlimited scope.
That meant a reporter could also author a book for CQ Press, earn a promotion to newsroom manager, spearhead a project that would get the attention of National Magazine Award judges, even get in on the ground floor of the early World Wide Web. It meant he could build a 21st century newsroom that delivers news in “real time” as well as daily and weekly print cycles. Today, he can boast that CQ is a leading-edge information company, breaking new ground every year, and that its diverse, multi-talented staff reflects the best in the business.
More than that, because CQ has always been such a collegial work place, he came to work each day with the joyful prospect of sharing a mission with the most generous-spirited people in the world. His most satisfying accomplishment, in fact, was watching men and women he had recruited into the fold or had encouraged to apply for positions that seemed outside their comfort zones to achieve new levels of professional success. A career at CQ still is what each person makes of it.
So as the reporter reaches the mid-range of middle age and decides to strike out on his own, the passage brings the same excitement and awe that he felt on his first day back in May 1985. What he — what I — now realize is that this is the apotheosis of my profession. All this time, right here at CQ. And my gratitude to my employer, my colleagues and such cherished friends will be eternal.
— David Rapp, Editor