A Changing of the Guard at National Journal

As the beloved Charlie Green steps away from a publication he has lived and breathed for the past 16 years, relative newcomer Tim Grieve steps into the role of Editor-in-Chief of National Journal Magazine as well as NationalJournal.com. Bruce Gottlieb, President of National Journal, announced the news to staff just after noon today with a bittersweet champagne toast for Green.

Gottlieb said he asked Green to take two weeks to hopefully return with a different decision. This is all very personal for Gottlieb, who has worked with Green for years. Green spoke very favorably and said kind things about Grieve – that he has great news and digital sense and will make a fine leader. Then Grieve spoke and said it’s a huge honor for him to step into Green’s role.

Green broke the news to Publisher David Bradley three months ago. The men had an agreement. A few years back when Bradley had to offer buyouts. At the time, he implored Green not to take it. He didn’t. But said when he knew it was the right time to move on to something new that Bradley would accept his resignation graciously, without a fight.

By far this announcement by Bradley is more dramatic and heartfelt than anything we’ve seen from him in three and a half years. And that’s saying a lot since Bradley doesn’t sneeze without being dramatic.

See the must-read memo…Bradley even breaks into song. My Colleagues at National Journal:

As if in the same entering class at school, Charlie Green and I joined the National Journal Group roughly contemporaneously. Charlie was recruited by Steve Smith as the magazine’s deputy editor in 1997; I joined only a few months prior. I’ve barely spent a working day in media without Charlie Green carrying the larger work. Now, I will have to. After 16 years at the National Journal Group, rising to editor of the whole, Charlie has decided that he would like a new run with his career still at its zenith. For reasons I’ll explain below, I’m honor bound to acquiesce. As Charlie steps back, I’m reassured of strong leadership by Bruce’s and my decision to appoint Tim Grieve, himself an extreme talent, to the position of editor-in-chief overseeing all our journalism products.

As to Charlie—and as to my sense of being bound by honor—I want to tell the story of this great editor’s time with us. On first purchasing the National Journal, and immediately trying to add columnist Stuart Taylor to our ranks, I came across a large perception problem. Stuart had been on the threshold of accepting our offer—and leaving the American Lawyer—when its (very, very) smart owner, Steve Brill, asked Stuart: “National Journal – isn’t that the Washington reference publication with the three-hole punch?” Under Steve Smith, then under Michael Kelly but then, and most, under Charlie Green, the National Journal became a first-tier-talent, national-class magazine. For 16 years, Charlie has edited the most-intelligent, considered, trustworthy, prestigious public policy publishing property in the U.S.  All of us who love this brand are profoundly in his debt.

As won’t surprise any of our editorial staff, the degree of Charlie’s talent caught me unaware. Michael Kelly first told me: “You know, this deputy editor Steve hired – he’s really something. I mean the real deal.”  Then, when Michael left Washington to edit The Atlantic, he added: “I don’t really think we have to do any recruiting here. Charlie’s really it. You’ll never hear him say it, but he can do this better than I can.” Demonstrating the highest ratio of exceptional talent over selfless regard I’ve ever seen, Charlie lead us from then on.