Pulitzer Expands Online Focus With New Board Member, Politico Co-Founder VandeHei

vandehei pic.jpgLess than a week after announcing changes to its entry requirements making it easier for online writers to win awards, the Pulitzer Prize Board has announced a new appointment: Jim VandeHei, the co-founder of one of the most successful new media launches in recent years, Politico.com.

VandeHei, who is also Politico’s executive editor, is “the first representative of a primarily online news organization” to serve on the board, the Pulitzer committee said today. But he also has a print background. Before founding the Washington, D.C.-based site in 2007 with John F. Harris and Allbritton Communications, he worked for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal — among other D.C. pubs — covering Capitol Hill.

It will be interesting to see if this new focus on online news will lead to Pultizers for online writers next year. Seems like they have a better chance now than ever before.

Previously: Online Writers Now Have Greater Shot Of Winning Pulitzer, Four Questions For Politico’s Jim VandeHei

Pulitzer Prize Board Elects New Member, Jim VandeHei, Co-founder of Politico

New York, Dec. 7, 2009 — Jim VandeHei, executive editor and co-founder of Politico, a new media company covering national politics and governance, has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board, Columbia University announced today.

VandeHei, 38, is the first representative of a primarily online news organization to serve on the Pulitzer Board.

VandeHei, along with journalist John F. Harris and Allbritton Communications, launched Politico in early 2007 and quickly established it as a leading new media company. Vanity Fair recently named VandeHei among the 100 most powerful Information Age thinkers for helping create the “model for the new media success story.”

Drawing on 15 years of experience in Washington journalism, VandeHei helps direct Politico’s editorial content and oversee its business strategy. The company, with more than 100 employees, blends the old media values of fairness and accuracy with the speed and immediacy of new technologies. Politico’s Web site reaches more than 3 million unique visitors each month, and its Washington-based newspaper is distributed to more than 30,000 senior government officials, staff, lobbyists and political professionals.

VandeHei, a native of Oshkosh, Wis., is a regular political analyst on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and is a frequent guest on numerous cable and network television programs. He co-moderated two televised presidential debates during the 2008 campaign with MSNBC and CNN, including the first debate to incorporate questions voted on by a live online audience. He is also a public speaker, giving speeches and moderating debates and panel discussions on politics, new media and the future of journalism.

VandeHei graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1994 with degrees in journalism and political science. He became interested in journalism after covering sports for the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern and then running The Brillion News, a small-town weekly in Wisconsin, in the summer of 1993.

VandeHei moved to Washington in 1995 to pursue a career in political journalism. His first job was reporting on the alternative fuels industry for New Fuels Report, a weekly newsletter. In 1996, he started writing for Inside the New Congress, a now-defunct weekly newsletter that covered the House and the Senate.

Soon afterward, VandeHei became congressional correspondent for Roll Call, where he covered the fall of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the battles for power within the Republican majority. The Wall Street Journal recruited VandeHei in 1999 to cover Capitol Hill. He was named White House correspondent for the Journal in 2000, and he covered the first year of President George W. Bush’s administration.

In 2002, The Washington Post offered VandeHei a position covering Congress, and he was soon tapped to cover the Democratic fight for the presidential nomination in 2004, followed by the general election. He served as one of the Post’s White House correspondents during the first year of Bush’s second term, a beat that was expanded to include politics and governance in 2005.

VandeHei’s political editor at the Post was John F. Harris. The two came up with the idea of launching Politico in 2006 with Mike Allen, then of Time magazine, and several others. VandeHei and Harris left the Post in November 2006 to start the new venture with Robert L. Allbritton, now publisher, and Frederick J. Ryan Jr., CEO, of Politico.

VandeHei is married to Autumn Hanna VandeHei, a policy and development consultant for nonprofit organizations. They have two children, Sophie and James, and reside in Falls Church, Va.