POLITICO President Jim VandeHei on Rick Berke Resignation: ‘This isn’t an isolated decision’

Shortly after Rick Berke’s resignation announcement to staff Sunday evening, POLITICO president and CEO Jim VandeHei followed up with an email to colleagues.

“This isn’t an isolated decision,” wrote VendeHei. “We have very big plans for expanding POLITICO here and elsewhere and need in place a leadership team that shares our vision, ambitions and full faith.”

VandeHei says that a replacement will not be made “until we put the finishing touches on our new digital strategy” and that editor-at-large Bill Nichols will fill Berke’s shoes in the interim.

“So we’ll soon will be unveiling exciting changes that will keep us at the top of our game, and in command of our market,” added VandeHei.

The insider who broke this news to Fishbowl wonders whether a sale of the Rosslyn-based political news outlet is in its near future. Hmm…

From: Jim VandeHei
Date: September 7, 2014 at 6:14:48 PM EDT
To: TP-Staff

     As you all know by now, Rick Berke is stepping down as executive editor.

     Rick is a great journalist and a great guy with a bright future. Like he said in his note, we simply had different visions for running the POLITICO newsroom. We wish him luck and are truly grateful for the enthusiasm he brought to the job.

Rick had achievements at POLITICO that will endure and we will build upon, including his passionate advocacy of an institute for young journalists aimed at promoting diversity in our profession. For all his gifts, we were in agreement that a vibrant and growing publication must have a leadership team that is fully in sync on its mission and how to achieve it.

     This isn’t an isolated decision. We have very big plans for expanding POLITICO here and elsewhere and need in place a leadership team that shares our vision, ambitions and full faith.

     It is no secret some cool changes are coming to the newsroom, culminating with a sharper focus on owning our core areas of interest: Congress, policy, politics and the White House.  You should expect some big new hires, too.​

     We will not announce a replacement until we put the finishing touches on our new digital strategy. Our plan is to arrange the newsroom leadership differently to accommodate the expansion and digital improvements you will soon see.

     Bill Nichols will manage things in the interim. Harris and Danielle will be intimately involved, too, of course. We are very grateful to Marty, Laura, Gregg and other top editors who have stepped up of late to keep the flow of great stories gushing.

     In short order, we are confident you will find our plans are both electrifying and wise. We continue to dominate our space despite the toughest competitive environment we have ever faced. From Day One – for nearly eight years now – we have been talking about the imperative for constant reinvention. So we’ll soon will be unveiling exciting changes that will keep us at the top of our game, and in command of our market.

     ​Broadly speaking, we want our editors to have a very crisp sense of how we intend to dominate our areas of emphasis and have more power and tools to carry this out. We want our reporters to know with precision their mission in owning their beats, and that they will have more help in punching through online, in print and elsewhere. And we want our readers to know that the great work they have been getting from us will be even better going forward.

     Growth and change are thrilling – and unnerving. But if we push ourselves to think ambitiously about our journalism, and about new ways we can make our readers smarter and more productive, we will pull off something very special and important together.

     Meantime, keep doing what you do uniquely well and thanks for all your time, support and effort.

 Jim and John