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CQ Roll Call Staffers Take Buyouts

Five employees at CQ Roll Call have been given buyouts at the publication, according to a newsroom memo sent out by Editorial Director Susan Benkelman obtained by FishbowlDC.

The employees are: John Bicknell, editor of CQ Weekly; Robert Healy, senior editor; Melinda Nahmias, deputy editor of CQ Weekly; Lauren Whittington, leadership editor; and Randy Wynn, chief news editor.

We hear that part of the buyout is roughly five months-worth of pay.

“We’re going to set a date for an appropriate, official celebration of these employees’ long and wonderful careers, most likely the third week in May, and we’ll make sure everyone is aware of those plans,” Benkelman wrote in the memo. “In the meantime, please wish them well on this next phase of their lives and careers. We’ll also have some snacks and drinks in the newsroom late tomorrow for these employees’ last day. I’ll bring the wine, and the Kleenex.”

FishbowlDC reported Thursday that several staffers had submitted requests for buyouts and that decisions could come by the end of the day. It looks like that panned out.

See the full memo…

As everyone is aware, we have offered buyouts to certain categories of employees in editorial in order to meet our budget targets and realign our staff around our digital offerings. The point of the buyouts was to create a smooth departure for some folks who might have seen this as a good time to leave the company. But it won’t be easy saying goodbye to these five employees who have elected to take the buyout, and who were selected for the program:

John Bicknell:  John is one of those editors who can do everything, and, well, has done almost everything in our newsroom. He’s been a daily news editor, a domain editor (defense and social policy), editor of CQ Homeland Security, PIA editor, opinion editor in Roll Call and now, an editor on the Weekly. We’re going to miss his easy-going nature, and with Arwen gone too, the Bicknell family joie de vivre. Mostly we’ll miss his versatility and his ability to shine at anything we throw his way.

Bob Healy: After graduating from George Washington University in 1972, Bob began his 41-year career here as a copyboy for the CQ Weekly Report at the old offices at 1735 K St. NW. He kept the glue pots filled and made sure there was plenty of carbon paper, and a year later he moved up to the proofreading desk. After a stint doing book editing for what would become CQ Press, Healy in 1982 started working on the daybook. In the years since, Bob has presided over a product that is without doubt the best in Washington. Hundreds of reporters through the years, including Benton Ives, Peter King and Emily Pierce, learned basic news principles while doing CQ Schedules work for Bob as one of their first stops in journalism. Bob has been a tireless advocate for the company, the staff and the work that we all do every day. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends in the newsroom. Fortunately, for us, he’s imparted his schedules sensibility to his colleagues and has taug!
ht many people here his tricks of the trade. Moreover, we plan to continue to tap him on a consulting basis for guidance on this product going forward.

Melinda Nahmias: Week in, week out, the magazine comes together at the hands of this pro, who’s been in the magazine business for years and who shows us regularly how to juggle many balls on deadline and remain cool under pressure. In addition to the Weekly, Melinda’s put together many CQ Almanacs with Jan Austin, and she has been the ever-steady keeper of mastheads and master lists. Melinda is as reliable an editor as they come, not only on production, but on matters of grammar, phrasing and layout.

Lauren Whittington: Lauren’s career track exemplifies Roll Call’s tradition of career growth opportunities. She was an intern, an editorial assistant and a reporter before moving through various editing roles. The institutional knowledge she built up during that time is invaluable. She is an encyclopedia of political knowledge and has been a mentor and role model to young reporters in teaching the ins and outs of Congress and the electoral process. Lauren’s passion for political news has always been obvious, but what has stood out even more is her devotion to Roll Call and her constant effort to make the newspaper and website the best it can be.

Randy Wynn:  I’ve described Randy as the glue that holds lots of things together in this newsroom, and for good reasons, including his excellent skills as a news editor as well as his always-steady guidance in editor’s chair. I have come to rely on Randy to handle just about anything that comes up (and sometimes to make things go away).  He’s the son of a newspaperman who’s got this business in his soul, and it shows every day of the week, but shines most brightly when he takes a story on deadline and frames it up just right. He’s got a way of helping journalists understand what it is they’ve got, and when they need to do more reporting. I know everyone will miss his news judgment, his keen appreciation of the absurd, his wonderful sense of humor and his rock-solid leadership.

We’re going to set a date for an appropriate, official celebration of these employees’ long and wonderful careers, most likely the third week in May, and we’ll make sure everyone is aware of those plans. In the meantime, please wish them well on this next phase of their lives and careers. We’ll also have some snacks and drinks in the newsroom late tomorrow for these employees’ last day. I’ll bring the wine, and the Kleenex.

Susan

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