Can a morning tip sheet targeted at political professionals thrive without including birthday shout-outs? That’s the question WaPo‘s Reid Wilson has set out to answer this morning. Wilson and WaPo launched “Read In” at 8:00 a.m. -a new morning tip-sheet for Hill staffers and campaign workers. Wilson knows a little bit about the biz -he is the former editor-in-chief of the Hotline at National Journal and has been covering state-level politics for WaPo’s GovBeat for the past several years. FBDC caught up with Reid over the weekend and asked him some questions about his new project. Read
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You used to run Hotline at NJ. How is “Read In” going to differ from that and other morning tip sheets?
Read In is going to be laser-focused on its core audience – Capitol Hill staffers and members, the lobbying community, the campaign community, anyone who practices professional politics. My job is to help them do their jobs better, which means giving people a timely and comprehensive look at what they need to know before their first meeting or conference call. Hence the name: This is how people read in to their day.
What’s your schedule for producing “Read In”? When do you wake up to start working on it?
We’re going to publish every day at 8 a.m. – set your watch by it. That means I’ll be up pretty early, but that’s no problem for me. I can never thank my mentors at The Hotline enough for giving me the ability to wake up at ungodly hours and just start working. Truth be told, I’ve spent so much of my career waking up and going straight to the office that I don’t really know how to do anything else in the mornings.
Will there be birthdays?
We plan many birthdays for Read In. And the guy who’s made this all happen, my boss Steven Ginsberg, asked me to plug his birthday. Aside from that, probably not.
You cover state politics at GovBeat. What’s the biggest state-level story that no one is talking about that will affect the 2014 elections?
This is the funny thing about the Beltway: People who don’t live here are talking about huge issues that will impact 2014, from rules about voting to gun control and gun rights to gay marriage and Medicaid expansion. We just don’t always hear that conversation. So my goal is to break down those walls a little bit, and to bring the conversation outside the Beltway to all of our attention.
We’re at this moment in politics where there are, in fact, red states and blue states, and they’re pursuing dramatically different paths. Wouldn’t it be nice to test the hypothesis that Republican or Democratic policies lead to better government? Well, happily, we have 50 laboratories of democracy – many increasingly following one party’s policy script to the letter – that give us the opportunity to do just that.
You’re from Seattle. Do you still keep tabs on what’s happening politically over there? What should DC journos know about (the other) Washington’s politics?
Jeff Bezos secretly runs the state. Am I allowed to say that?
Actually, I think Washington State is a model for election administration. Everyone sees it as a blue state, and that’s true, it hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1980. But it’s elected a Republican Secretary of State in every election since 1964. That’s because those officeholders have come from a long line of people who are just really good at the job of running the DMV and running elections – they’re technocrats in the truest sense. None of them have run for higher office, they just do their jobs well (Everyone’s going to point to the 2004 gubernatorial race, but I’d submit that election was decided by courts, rather than by the Secretary’s office).