Roll Call Fans Respond

>UPDATE: This post has been updated, in response to two sentences in the second anonymous comment that were unnecessarily cruel. We apologize for overlooking their airing in the first place.

On Friday, we posted the following comment from an anonymous tipster:

    Over the last couple of years, Roll Call has lost Ed Henry, Mark Preston, Chris Cillizza, John Bresnahan, Mary Ann Akers, and now Paul Kane. Sure, they’ve gone on to big and better things, but you can’t keep plugging those holes and expect the paper to be the same.

This prompted several Roll Call fans to weigh in via the anonymous tips box:

    AP has lost far more talent than the people who write for Roll Call. Ron Fournier, the best political writer in the country, Matt Kelly and John Diamond at the Pentagon, John Salant on campaign finance, Jim Rowley an investigative reporter extraordinaire, John Solomon the best investigative editor in the country and Lee Strope who forced the NY Times and Washington Post labor reporters to spend most of their time chasing her. …At least Roll Call will hire some good people.


    [I]f you look at the history of Roll Call over the last decade (which is when the Hill started), they have been remarkable resiliant, constantly filling holes created by reporters leaving for bigger and better places. In fact, it’s the track record of getting reporters poached that attracts some of the best young journalists in D.C. I’d be interested if you polled your readers for a Roll Call vs. Hill alumni comparison. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a dozen Roll Call alums since mid-1990 who are now very prominent journalists in this town and abroad. Off the top of my head: Susan Glasser, national editor, Washington Post; Tim Burger, terrorism correspondent, Time Magazine; Glenn Simpson, terror finance reporter, Wall Street Journal; Peter Spiegel, Pentagon correspondent, Los Angeles Times; Ed Henry, White House correspondent, CNN; Jake Tapper, senior national correspondent, ABC News; Chris Cilizza, political correpsondent, Washington Post; Jim VandeHei, whatever he is,; Mary Jacoby, Brussels correspondent, Wall Street Journal; Juliet Eilperin, environment correpsondent, Washington Post;
    Mark Preston, political editor, CNN; James K. Glassman, editor, The American (new AEI magazine). I’m sure others could add to this list. I strongly doubt the Hill could match it. CQ and National Journal probably could, though.


    To the naive tipster/pot-stirrer asking how one can “expect (Roll Call) to be the same” following the departures of six writers in two-and-a-half years: 1) they have left over a nearly three-year period, 2a) NONE of the departures has been a surprise and mgt has filled each slot with a known commodity in little time, 2b) Until Allbritton started blindly writing checks, Roll Call had been the ONLY paper with the ability to lure stars from other Congressional pubs [it is a one-way path to Roll Call; check your “Revolving Door” archives], 3) Roll Call is, as an earlier poster noted, a utility on Capitol Hill, is in its 53rd year, has been the “first read” of the day for tens of thousands and has had an untouchable qualitative lead for a decade. It is insulting to categorize new Roll Call writers as “plugs” and ignorant to suggest that a Roll Call reporter, regardless of how skilled are John, Mary Ann and Paul, is irreplaceable. My guess is the “tip” you printed came from a lurker—or worse, a worried ad salesman from The Hill or The Pothole—and not someone with a clue of how a newsroom or a successful newspaper, operates.


    In response to your tipster…. Had you ever heard of any of those people *before* they joined Roll Call? I’d bet the staff of Roll Call is 90 percent changed today from what it was 10 years ago. No one stays forever. Life goes on. New talent will be hired and cultivated and five years from now you’ll be wondering how Roll Call will ever survive without them. And no, I don’t work there, never did…

But one reader thinks that perhaps all of the Roll Call cheerleading is a sign of insecurity.

    “Don’t the Roll Call protestations about being the strongest, the genre creator etc strike you as excessively defensive – not the confident utterances of an unmatched champion but the bitter and alarmed prickliness of a tired market leader being overtaken.”

Not to be outdone, however…a Politico fan also weighs in:

    The Politico will be to The Hill what gmail is to yahoo. There is still a market (at least for now), for the old, but the new is just SO MUCH better!!