John Bresnahan To Allbritton

The bleeding continues out of Washington’s established newspapers and into the arms of VandeHarris…

Roll Call Associate Editor John Bresnahan is leaving Roll Call to become the congressional bureau chief and a senior writer for the yet-to-be-named Allbritton paper (will the new name be announced at tomorrow’s weekly meeting?).

This clearly is shaking up Washington’s political coverage. As Roll Call and The Hill and The Post lose top talent, this means a few things…

  • Great opportunities are now open at Roll Call and The Hill for junior reporters that weren’t previously. (ADVANTAGE: Reporters)

  • Top reporters at The Hill and Roll Call now have a very real shot at the New York Times and/or Washington Post, as those powerhouses now need to step up their political coverage (and replace their gap). (In fact, lots of grumbling about a Roll Call – NYTimes move soon…) (ADVANTAGE: Reporters)

  • Has the talent pool been watered down? (Think: Major League Baseball team expansion and pitching talent…) (ADVANTAGE: Nobody)

  • Dormant plans for enhanced political coverage have been taken off the back-burner and put into action. (ADVANTAGE: Publications and reporters).

  • Salaries…up. (ADVANTAGE: Reporters)

  • Will Roll Call’s long dominance as the preeminent political newspaper come to an end? (ADVANTAGE: To be determined…)

      >UPDATE: Two tips rolled in regarding the above bullet point:

      “Might be time for you to distinguish between “bleeding” and “bloodletting”. None of the well-financed papers (roll call, NJ, CQ) are letting anyone they want to keep leave. The Hill is most vulnerable…The Hill is the true target of Allbritton since spurning his takeover effort.”


      “‘Roll Call’s dominance…end?’ Give me a break. Roll Call has been like a utility, for fifty years, on Capitol Hill. Dozens of Roll Call alumni–including Vandehei!– pepper other media vehicles and Roll Call has literally never been stronger of more widely read in the multi-Hill-paper universe. Roll Call clocked The NY Times, WaPo and WSJ in the only objective survey: Erdos & Morgan. (It will be two years before there is another survey.) Opinion Leaders read Roll Call for overall content and the four-days-a-week breaking news. It’s there, it gets read. There is not an Ivory Tower when it comes to feeding the hungry beast on the Hill. If you don’t accept the Erdos numbers, then look at the other true measure: classified ads. Roll Call carries more ads for more senior Hill positions more often than every other pub combined.”

  • What will happen to all of the reporters hired at Capitol Leader before the VandeHarris earthquake hit? Certainly, they’re no scabs, but VandeHarris have certainly raised the bar for hires. Will the original crew’s roles remain unchanged? Is their room for advancement diminshed? Will anyone be let go because their resume no longer makes the cut? (ADVANTAGE: Reporters…but which ones?)

  • Who’s freaking out more? Roll Call? The Hill? The Post? Capitol Leader>? (After all, they better live up to all this buzz and make back all this money)?

  • Will the jacking up of salaries force at least one paper to fold..unable to compete? (ADVANTAGE: No one).