Politico Announces Changes in Gargantuan Memo

Politico‘s Editor-in-Chief John Harris sent a vast memo to staff this afternoon saluting them on their successes and detailing changes to come.

The takeaways: Politico Pro Managing Editor Tim Grieve (the one with a bit of a hilarious temper issue) will now be dealing mainly with platforms not people. (If you hear screams of Halleluja coming from Rosslyn this afternoon, this is why). Like Grieve, Craig Gordon also has the title of Politico Managing Editor. Looks like he’ll be manning the daily operation because he will be “managing content” (i.e. TALKING with people, so hopefully he’s a human being.). Both men will report to Danielle Jones who has been promoted to Deputy Editor-in-Chief. We love this line: “As is obvious from these descriptions, Craig and Tim will work together hand-in-glove, since there is no platform without great content, and no content without a great platform.” (Craig, we hope your self-esteem is intact.) The other big whopper is that beloved Bill Nichols will move into an “editor-at-large” role in which he will serve as the publication’s ombudsman. VandeHarris, for their part, will continue to do what they do — they will fearlesly lead the team and write whenever possible. But read between the lines: “John will continue to dedicate most of his time to directing editorial coverage; Jim will continue to dedicate most of his time to the broader strategic direction of the company; and both of us will continue to write as often as we can.” We’re hearing strong murmurings that the pair is beginning the process of moving off strict day-to-day editorial management.

See the full memo. It’s a long one. Get some popcorn…

From: John Harris
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 2:06 PM
To: Staff
Subject: Staff News


We have a number of important announcements about the future of POLITICO and some important news on promotions and leadership moves in the newsroom.

Before we turn to the future, however, we want to share some quick thoughts on the recent past.  Every part of our operation has produced some awesome achievements that make us reflect on how far we have come in six years:

*The advertising sales team is the clear market leader in our space, capturing over 40 percent of the print market annually, and well more than 50 percent of the overall market, given our wide advantage over Washington competitors in digital advertising.

*The very exciting experiment in subscription journalism under POLITICO Pro—an area that is critical to our future and at the heart of the hybrid newsroom that we are building— has exceeded the high business and editorial expectations we have set and is an unambiguous success in just two years since its launch.

*The same goes for our events business. Beth Lester Sidhu has built an operation that turns heads with its news-driven events, including ones featuring Marco Rubio, Bob Woodward and Karl Rove in the days ahead.

*Our video team, which is expanding for 2013, has been on a roll with rising traffic month by month, capped off by our election night broadcast with nearly a quarter of a million live views. And thanks to our marketing team, we had more than 70 TV & radio hits on election night and a record number of hits for the year.

*The newsroom continued to set the Washington and national agenda on our core subjects — a triumph visible on a daily basis. We broke our own records for traffic in August, September, October and November.  We have had an amazing 25 million unique visitors in November alone. No one covered the campaigns with more depth, insight and edge than our team — and we are doing the same on the fiscal cliff debate unfolding before us.

*None of these achievements — including 54 million page views on election night without so much as a technology hiccup—could have taken place without our best-in-class technology operation.

Where do we go from here? This will be the subject of many conversations in coming weeks, but we want to get things going now with some important details about how we organize the leadership of our company and the newsroom.

This starts with the great decision Robert Allbritton and Fred Ryan made earlier this year to elevate Kim Kingsley to a role of running the company day-to-day, making sure the editorial and business sides are working seamlessly to achieve our journalistic and business ambitions. Kim, as you all know, is a supremely talented thinker, manager and leader.

The two of us will continue our roles in directing editorial and long-term strategies, working as co-founders with Robert and Fred to position POLITICO for the next phase of its growth. But all of us agree Kim is the best person to run things on a daily basis, as she is already doing.

John will continue to dedicate most of his time to directing editorial coverage; Jim will continue to dedicate most of his time to the broader strategic direction of the company; and both of us will continue to write as often as we can.

Bill Nichols will be elevated to a new position, editor at large, reporting directly to John. Bill will continue to play a major role in the daily life of POLITICO, with a heavy emphasis on politics and the new projects that we hope to undertake. But he’ll also take on some new assignments, among them the role of serving as primary ambassador to the outside world—effectively an ombudsman—when questions arise about our journalism or subjects of stories seek engagement with someone in authority at the top rank of the newsroom. He is also the newsroom leader charged with ensuring our publication does not waver from our own inflexible standards on journalistic ethics. A changing media environment is constantly producing questions or choices that never rose a generation ago. Bill will also be studying some long-range questions facing POLITICO—such as the future of opinion journalism at our publication, and how the paper should evolve to keep our indispensable lock on the congressional audience.

At the same time, we are elevating Danielle Jones to deputy editor-in-chief, another new position here, to run the news side of the business on a day-to-day basis. Danielle is someone with impeccable news judgment, Web expertise and leadership chops. She will serve as John’s right arm in the newsroom and have his proxy on all decisions. Chief among her many responsibilities will be the management of the people and building a strong newsroom. As good as we are, we need to get even better at developing our talent, better at recruiting new talent and better at getting the most out of our considerable newsroom resources.

POLITICO will have two managing editors reporting to Danielle. They are Tim Grieve and Craig Gordon.

Tim, who has done great work as the leader of POLITICO Pro, will be managing editor in charge of platforms. The website, Pro, the paper, our mobile apps — it is his job to run these platforms, ensuring that they are displaying POLITICO’s content to maximum impact every single day. This job also requires thinking long-term, ensuring that we stay on the cutting edge as new platforms develop and that we are always looking for better ways to serve our current audience and to grow it. This job takes over many of the tasks that in the past Danielle Jones has done so creatively. Tim will keep his current responsibilities for overseeing Pro strategy and thinking about possible new policy verticals to add to the seven we currently have and overseeing their launches.

Craig will be elevated to managing editor of content. He has sometimes described himself as POLITICO’s equivalent of a city editor—the guy who makes sure all the hundred different coverage decisions on any given day are being made the right way. Yet he’s also the editor who hovers over our biggest stories—making sure that we have a constant flow of well-written lead stories. In this role, all content editors in the newsroom will be answerable to Craig on coverage matters. In his expanded role, he will oversee content across the entire company.

As is obvious from these descriptions, Craig and Tim will work together hand-in-glove, since there is no platform without great content, and no content without a great platform.

That’s a lot of movement, and some of these movements clearly create new openings that will have to be filled in coming weeks. This is a reorganization that has been driven by a great challenge to have —how to get the most impact with this many talented leaders. In the main, however, the purpose of these changes is continuity—we want to keep growing this company, and continue to dominate our turf in the way we have for six years.

John and Jim