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Newsflash to Five Roll Call Scribes: Say Hello to Your New Boss

Five Roll Call reporters  received word Wednesday that they now have a new boss. Instead of Editor David Rapp, they’ll now report to a different editor. What’s more: Their work will now be behind a paywall as it appears on CQ.com.

The big switch is part of a plan to realign resources and inject them into the overall digital operation. As sources inside the publication explained to FishbowlDC, the move allows the company to lower Roll Call‘s operating costs while they avoid laying off employees. Hypothetically speaking, insiders explain the shift could help if The Economist Group decides to sell or close Roll Call (athough they have not indicated there is no plan to do either).

Despite the fact that the two newsrooms are now fully integrated, confusion among readers still exists as some Roll Call reporters are still resisting the idea of having CQ invade their Roll Call. But they’ll have to adjust. Stories bylined by these reporters will still appear in the Roll Call print edition. If you’re a CQ.com subscriber, all Roll Call stories appear on CQ.com. In turn,  CQ stories pertaining to policy news of the day appear on RollCall.com and the Roll Call print edition.

CQ Roll Call sources tell us tensions are high as some of the affected reporters were less than enthused by the initial news. Some of those called on to make the switch include White House Correspondent Steven Dennis, who is switching bosses but will continue to maintain his regular beat as a CQ Roll Call reporter, House Leadership reporter Daniel Newhauser and Humberto Sanchez, who covers the Senate. Others affected include Adriel Bettelheim, who will write a new CQ Morning Briefing newsletter that starts Monday, Kate Ackley, and Eliza Carney.

CQ Roll Call brass considers the move to be positive. In a memo dispatched to staff Thursday from Susan Benkelman

she communicates the editorial strategy and securing a successful digital future – an enhancement of the premium (paid) content on CQ.com and continued expansion of free digital content on Roll Call.  The memo also announces the launch of another new Roll Call blog – Political Moneyline, an extension of the existing service — that launches Monday.

The memo:

To the editorial staff:
I want to announce some changes in staffing and assignments that will enable us to execute our editorial strategy for the future, which includes both expanding our premium content for high-end subscription clients in print and online, and enhancing our free digital presence.

First, as most of you have seen, there is new energy in our free web site, RollCall.com. We’ve launched several new blogs, with another one to come next week, and more after that. Since his arrival late last year, Roll Call Editor David Rapp’s digital creativity is paying off: We’ve seen growth in our traffic numbers on the site – a 127 percent increase in unique visitors and a 75 percent increase in page views, year over year – with growth being driven in part by the four new blogs we launched in March.

They include David Hawkings‘ blog, “Hawkings Here,” (also a Page 1 column) and David Drucker‘s “Goppers” blog on the House GOP, both of which are already generating thousands of hits a week on RollCall.com. Even 20-year Roll Call stalwarts Mort Kondracke and Stu Rothenberg are getting into the act with their own blogs.
On the premium side, we are significantly strengthening the value proposition of the package we offer our clients, including a new feature that will start this Monday: a morning newsletter that will serve as a guide to the day for CQ.com subscribers. That newsletter, the CQ Morning Briefing, will be written by Adriel Bettelheim, a longtime CQ Roll Call writer and editor who we know will serve as a clear and engaging voice for our content.

This newsletter is part of our emphasis on digital content since the consolidation of our two print dailies last year. Several new features for CQ.com are in the works, including a mobile app, a reader for CQ Weekly and a new feature that we plan to unveil soon that will bring our customers closer to the activities of Congress on a real-time basis. With Adriel’s move, his two reporters will also move to new teams.

Eliza Carney will continue to do what Eliza does best, writing about the intersection of money and politics and the conduct of elections and election law. Eliza also happens to be one of the best long-form writers in the business, so she will join John Cranford’s group. She will write mostly for the Weekly but do daily stories as well.

Kate Ackley will take the financial services beat, reporting to Paul Page. We are excited about this move, as nobody can better cover the relationship between business and Washington, particularly where Wall Street influence is concerned.

Our coverage of money and politics will be augmented by one of the new blogs on RollCall.com: Kent Cooper and Tony Raymond, who created Political MoneyLine for CQ.com and manage it on a daily basis, will write a blog by that name, leveraging the numbers from their database and getting inside the flow of money in campaigns, lobbying, and super PACS, among other things.

To better align our White House coverage with our policy coverage, Steve Dennis will report to CQ’s ME for Daily News, Keith P. White, as will House reporter Dan Newhauser and Senate reporter Humberto Sanchez. Steve will continue to be CQ Roll Call’s White House reporter, always looking at the executive branch’s role in shaping legislation. His background in budget and economics will no doubt come intoplay given the money fights ahead. Dan and Humberto will continue to cover the leadership, also emphasizing the leadership’s role in policymaking.

In design, we plan to use Marilyn Gates-Davis’ extraordinary art skills more broadly – she’ll work not only on Roll Call and RollCall.com, but on other CQ Roll Call products as well, bringing her talents to all of our products, print and digital.

As always, our focus in editorial will be delivering information that meets a quality standard that both CQ and Roll Call customers have been accustomed to over the years, and to maintain that same standard going forward as we seek ways to grow.

I am available to answer any questions you may have about these moves, as are others on the editorial leadership team – Dave, Randy Wynn, Anne Hoy, John Dineen, John Cranford, and Peter King. Just stop by or shoot one of us an e-mail.

Susan

 

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