Calling All Politicos! Roll Call Is Looking for a New Editor in Chief

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

lunch at michaelsHaving skipped our weekly Wednesday lunch last week, we were all set to jump back into the fray today. Despite the oppressive and depressing weather (Hello, Summer? Where art thou?) the joint was jumping with returning players (Eliot Spitzer holding court at Table One) and the usual scrum of media folks and the occasional mogul and mogul-in-training (Henry Schleiff, Gus Wenner).

I was joined today by David Ellis, chief content officer of CQ Roll Call. PR maven extraordinaire Lisa Linden, CEO of LAK PR and the quietly brilliant media strategist behind more political power brokers than you can imagine, arranged our tête-à-tête.

Diane Clehane and David Ellis
Diane Clehane and David Ellis

David arrived at the stroke of noon and upon surveying the room told me, “The first time I was here was when I was a junior reporter at Time. Walter Isaacson brought me. It was quite a mind-blowing experience as a twentysomething to have Tom Brokaw come to the table to talk to Walter about getting on a plane to head into a war zone.”

I was delighted to discover we had something in common–we are both ‘Former People People’ (which has its own very active Facebook page) and we traded war stories over lunch about what it was like to work as a writer-reporter during the Carol Wallace era in the ’90s. During David’s Time Inc. days he was a correspondent for both People and Time magazines, where he covered a cross section of pop culture and politics. His stories of spending time when President Bill Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, during her son’s run for the White House (and the morning after his win) was classic. His time at People was also memorable for a very personal reason. It was during a business lunch (no, it wasn’t at Michael’s) that he met his wife, then Jane Lloyd (now Ellis), a publicist for Dutton, when David was a contributor to People’s all-important Picks & Pans section.

Today, David was in town for some big doings. Immediately after our lunch, he was heading to the New York Foreign Press Center of the U.S. Department of State to address the assembled foreign press on the inner workings of Congress–a topic he pretty much knows inside and out. In his current position, he oversees coverage for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill campus newspaper, the CQ legislative news service and CQ Weekly, managing more than 150 reporters, editors and researchers. David’s passion for his work was clearly evident as he covered a head-spinning array of topics during our 90-minute lunch, including the current underreported (except by his new outlets) “brief moment of bipartisanship” in Congress. These moments, observed David, have resulted in the $200 million ‘Doc Fix’ bill signed by President Obama in April, the passage of the Energy Efficiency bill and the Trade Deal which “basically aligned Democrats with Republicans,” much to the dismay of the unions. “No one wants to do stories on Congress working together.”

CQ Roll Call covers it all—and then some. As David explained it, there are two brands: CQ News, with its weekly magazine and exclusive paywall protected website, and Roll Call newspaper, which has free online content and reaches both ends of the political spectrum on the Hill. “CQ Roll Call has the respect and attention of those who make or are attempting to share policy,” said David, who noted they have a “Senate-wide deal with the paywall” and hand-deliver the magazine to “60 to 70 percent of offices on the Hill.” Roll Call, explained David, is for the “young legislative aide” and is something of a “campus newspaper,” offering the inside track on career advancement and DC nightlife. Simply put, “Roll Call is about the pursuit of power and CQ is about the wielding of power.”