National Journal Ramps Up – Way Up! – For October Relaunch


The National Journal Group has had a busy few weeks: as they gear up for their October relaunch, the publisher of National Journal, The Hotline, and Congress Daily has been building an impressive portfolio of some of DC’s top reporting talent. The list of recent hires includes:

Ron Fournier, Editor-in-Chief of National Journal Group (formerly of AP)

Josh Kraushaar, Executive Editor of The Hotline (formerly of Politico)

Jeremy Jacobs, Editor of Hotline On Call (formerly of Campaigns & Elections)

Coral Davenport, Energy & Environment Correspondent (formerly of Politico)

Yochi Dreazen, Sr. Correspondent for Military Affairs & National Security (formerly of WSJ)

Matt Dobias, Health Care Correspondent (formerly of Modern Health Care)

Susan Davis, Congressional Correspondent (formerly of WSJ)

Fawn Johnson, General Assignment Correspondent (formerly of Dow Jones Newswire/WSJ)

Marc Ambinder, White House Correspondent (formerly of The Atlantic)

Aamer Madhani, White House Correspondent (formerly of USA Today)

Matthew Dowd, Columnist & Strategic Advisor (joining as a contributor)

Tim Alberta, Editor of Hotline Last Call (formerly of Politico)

Jim Tankersley, Economic Correspondent (formerly of the Tribune Washington Bureau)

Major Garrett, Congressional Correspondent (formerly of Fox News Channel)

Matthew Cooper, Managing Editor (formerly a senior adviser to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, who has worked for Newsweek, US News & World Report, TIME, and The Atlantic)

The hires of Cooper and Garrett were just announced this week, an impressive culmination to the past two weeks of star-studded hires. The rapid hiring — and poaching — spree of some of Washington’s best journalist talent has caught many by surprise over the past couple of weeks.  The hires of Fournier, Cooper, and Garrett in particular have turned many heads in Washington, as they are some of DC’s most experienced reporters, and their acquisition by National Journal has certainly shaken up the political media landscape. Garrett had recently acquired, amidst much controversy, a front row seat in the White House briefing room, so his departure from Fox came as a particular surprise.

National Journal is slated for a re-launch in October, but few details have been divulged about the actual changes the three publications will undergo. Official releases simply say that NJG is “undergoing a transformation that will build upon its reputation for intelligence and depth, infusing it with currency and speed.”

National Journal spokesperson Taylor West told Mediaite that at least two of the major changes planned for the relaunch include unifying the staff of the three publications in one newsroom, and a relaunch of the National Journal website with the three publications united and branded together under one main website. Currently National Journal, Congress Daily, and The Hotline operate three separate websites, and the re-launch plans include unifying the three under one main website.

At present, National Journal and its sister publications are heavily read by Beltway audiences but historically have not focused on audiences beyond DC. Much of the NJ site’s online content is accessible only to subscribers behind a paywall. West confirmed that among the plans for the re-launch includes efforts to increase free content, and also to diversify content offerings behind the paywall.  West also confirmed that National Journal will be targeting a broader, more national audience with their new website, and that they will increase free, non-subscriber content options will in order to capture this audience.

In May, National Journal Group owner David Bradley told the New York Observer that he was aiming to compete with Politico, and that he planned to increase the amount of content available in front of the paywall. “For the first time, we’re going to compete in front of the wall,” said Bradley in May. And when explaining how the new National Journal would differ from Politico, he said: “They are going to be at the more racy, tabloid end of the spectrum,” said Mr. Bradley. “That seems to be the position they have chosen. I think we’ll be more of the authoritative end.”

However, West stressed that National Journal Group is not necessarily striving to compete with Politico. “We’re in a slightly different space: they’re good at what they do, and we plan on continuing to be very good at what we do. Our re-launch is less about direct contrast with them and more about changing with the way that people are consuming their news and… With the team we’re putting together, we’re going to have the ability to provide better analysis and insight for those who want to see what’s coming around the corner and what’s next in Washington,” West told us in a phone call.

National Journal, The Hotline, and Congress Daily have been some of Washington’s most reliable publications for years. The acquisition of so much new talent and the upcoming relaunch certainly has many of their competitors wondering: what else does National Journal have planned? It seems that with its brand new team and brand new planned website, National Journal is clearly aiming to shake up the political media field — and appear to be positioning themselves to become a new leader in national political news.

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Sunday editor, Mediaite