CQ Editor Retires After 25 Years

After 25 years at CQ, Jan Austin is announcing her retirement. Known as a “fantastic editor,” she is considered “the conscience of the newsroom” and has trained generations of reporters on how to cover Congress. She is editor of the CQ Almanac and an editor at CQ Weekly.

The move allegedly has no connection to the recent wave of layoffs to rock CQ Roll Call.

She will be deeply missed.

See the internal memo from Susan Benkelman…

To all:

It is with deep sentiment and profound gratitude that I announce the retirement of Janet Austin from CQ, after 25 years with the company. Jan’s current title is senior editor, but that barely begins to capture what she has meant to this newsroom and to the people who write and edit stories about Congress. Jan has quite literally written the book on how we cover legislation, from bill introduction to enactment.

Jan has been one of our most highly valued institutionalists, one who understands the company’s traditional mission and core journalistic values as well as anyone, and has remained a passionate advocate for them to this day. She has been called the conscience of the newsroom because of her commitment to accuracy, precision, fairness – and plain language – in describing the actions of the politicians we cover.

Fortunately for us, Jan has also been passionate about passing on those values, to the people who work for her and with her. Like so many others, I learned from Jan when I first arrived at this company in 1997, and she patiently walked me through the CQ way, drilling into my head the appropriate ways of describing the actions of Congress, and the pitfalls to avoid. Multiply that by the number of congressional reporters who have worked in our newsroom and you have a sense of Jan’s impact on journalism in this town.

Jan arrived at this company in 1987 as economics and finance editor, another time of tumult in federal budget and tax policy, and immediately impressed her colleagues with her ability to ask the right questions and see the essence of important policy debates. She had previously been an editor at the World Bank and before that a consultant and part-time editor at the Washington Post and other places.

She later moved to become Almanac editor, and leader of the research department, where she and Nell Benton hired and mentored some great talent, many of whom have become impact reporters here and elsewhere. In recent years she has continued to put out the Almanac, almost single-handedly, as she has continued to oversee publication of Weekly Report.

Jan has talked with me about retiring for some months now, and I suppose I was somewhat in denial that this day would actually arrive. But we are here now, and so it is time to celebrate her impressive career as an editor and manager. Tomorrow she’s starting a short vacation from which she will return next week. Then we’ll bid goodbye to her on her last day, Aug. 15. Plans for a gathering to toast Jan’s retirement will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please join me in wishing her well and to thank her for her enormous contribution to CQ, and to congressional journalism more broadly.