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Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Mitchell’

Roll Call Editor Resigns for Job at NPR

Roll Call Editor Scott Montgomery is leaving for a senior staff position at NPR. This is no doubt a big loss for the Roll Call newsroom where he was thought to be a morale center and curator of young talent. As of late, there have been a slew of layoffs at CQ Roll Call among sales personnel. He is said to be leaving on good terms. The position at NPR is significant and hard for him to pass up. Sources say he was not nudged out or laid off.

Montgomery first came to CQ in 2000 as an editor for CQ Weekly, then moved to CQ‘s parent company, the St. Petersburg Times, before returning to CQ Roll Call in 2009. In the fall of 2010 Scott was named Editor of Roll Call on the heels of Charlie Mitchell, who, to the dismay of the newsroom, was pushed out.

A newsroom employee who formerly worked with Mitchell in Editorial gave him a glowing review, but only agreed to speak about him anonymously: “Scott Montgomery is a fantastic editor. When Charlie Mitchell left, there was chaos, but Scott stepped in keep the newspaper moving forward. He kept Roll Call true to its mission and his improvements were felt in every corner of the newsroom. Roll Callers, old and new, are going to miss him. NPR is getting a first rate editor.”

Susan Benkelman will lead CQ/Roll Call during the interim period until a permanent head is named.

We reached out to CQ Roll Call PR. They had no additional comment.

UPDATE: See the memo…

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Editorial Director Mike Mills Out at CQ Roll Call

With changes at the bottom, middle and everywhere in between, come changes at the top. CQ Roll Call Editorial Director Mike Mills is out, which should make a slew of current and former journalists there ecstatic as he has been described to us as “the devil” and other similar descriptions by multiple sources. To put it mildly, the newsroom wasn’t pleased when Editor Charlie Mitchell was forced out in September of 2011 and Mills was viewed as largely to blame.

Mills has a new job lined up and, at least surfacely, is leaving on good terms. They’re saying he’ll be missed by newsroom, where he did some “fantastic things” in bringing the company together.

Who’s on their way in? A new CFO, and new head of sales. The CFO is an Economist guy.
The new head of sales is an internal promotion for Rick Rockelli.

Until Mills’ replacement is found, Susan Benkelman and Scott Montgomery will head up the newsroom, which should undoubtedly please reporters living in unpredictable times. The company laid off some 30 employees on the business end of the publication earlier in the week in addition to a small number of editorial employees. Benkelman and Montgomery are well-liked and respected editors. Keith White is confident they will do a good job as the company hunts for a new editorial director.

Roll Call Seeks to Rebuild Image

When a publication loses some 15 people, including a beloved editor, a deputy editor and the head of ad sales in a seven-month time span, it ceases to be right or accurate to say that it  is undergoing a transition. Or, to reason that this is the topsy turvy, fluctuating world of  journalism these days.

At the time of then-Editor Charlie Mitchell‘s sudden departure last fall, Editorial Director Mike Mills said they had “concluded together” that this was the best way to proceed. Former Roll Call reporter Tory Newmyer, now at Fortune Magazine, voiced  online what so many Roll Call reporters felt then and now: “Terrible move, CQ overlords. Mitchell = 1st rate editor, world class human.”

But like many editors who must go back to ground level and find steady footing, it’s an “exciting” time. Roll Call‘s Editor Scott Montgomery is no exception: “People are still excited. I am excited. We still have some challenges to get through before we fill these jobs. But it’s kind of cool to think about remaking things and taking Roll Call forward.”

As management dusts itself off after an intense exodus of resignations and otherwise forced departures, top brass find themselves in an introspective process of rebuilding and figuring out just where to move from here. Long known as the stalwart figure amongst Washington’s Hill publications, Roll Call rests on that historical description and maybe a little too much. In a phone interview with Montgomery on Tuesday morning, FishbowlDC learned vaguely about where this relatively new editor wants to take the newspaper in the coming months. But specifics? He hesitated for fear of the competition getting too much information. Among the things we do know: Roll Call is one week out of its so-called one-month hiring freeze implemented company-wide by The Economist Group. Montgomery announced that they are looking to add at least three senior editors and five new reporters to its editorial team, which is roughly half of what they’ve lost.

As of late, management has made some unusual hiring moves, or rehiring as the case may be. For one thing, they brought back Shira Toeplitz, who spent a year at Politico before realizing that maybe the grass isn’t always greener type of thing. And today, they’re playing up yet another return: a former intern who has spent the past few years working on the desk of the NYT.

“What we need, it’s not magic,” Montgomery said in our talk. “Roll Call has a great reputation, a great history. It still is the newspaper of Capitol Hill and is still seen that way. We need to continue to do that. We know who our audience is. We know who we are. So my goal is fairly straightforward — to do what Roll Call is known for. We cover the Hill. We cover members. We cover leadership. We cover those staffs. The professional community of Capitol Hill. That’s who are readers are, that’s who we’re there for, and we like that.”

And yet, the chatter in media and staff circles is that HOH, the famed gossip column, isn’t what it was even weeks and months ago when Emily Heil still ran it and when Elizabeth Brotherton was still on board. And Around the Hill has gone a little, well, over the Hill and around the bend. What does Montgomery say to critics and doubters? “I can’t answer that directly because I’ve only been here a few months myself,” he said. “There’s no doubt the environment is very different from what it was. Roll Call can’t be what it was five or ten years ago and expect to prosper. It’s not about whether people think we’ve lost a step, but it’s about the steps we take forward. We need to be a must-read for people. We need to make sure that they are rewarded every time they do.”

On the subject of HOH, Montgomery concedes that there must be a shift toward Capitol Hill and away from the party scene. The parties won’t be abandoned, mind you, but he thinks the column needs some “reporting heft.” He explained,  “I want to bring on a smart person who is sourced on Capitol Hill and can bring a level of newsiness, a saucy newsiness.” Around the Hill is here to stay, he insisted, saying that it is something for which the publication is known. “It’s a big part of what distinguishes us from our competitors, and that needs to continue,” he said.

More on Montgomery’s intentions…

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CQ Roll Call Forges Ahead Amidst Major Changes

All eyes are on CQ Roll Call Associate Director Keith White to step into the shoes of Managing Director and Executive V.P. Laurie Battaglia. Battaglia’s sudden departure from CQ Roll Call was announced Tuesday. She had been with the company for 23 years.

“It’s been a great time,” Battaglia said by phone Wednesday afternoon, saying she felt she wanted to keep things positive. “The people are fantastic. Sometimes it’s just time to move on.”

White has made it clear he wants her position. The search is underway, but if The Economist Group’s CEO Andrew Rashbass agrees, it’s his. It was Rashbass who tipped employees off that White is up for the job. FishbowlDC has requested comment from White.

Battaglia has not announced where she will go next. “I don’t think she has laid her plans out yet,” said Editorial Director Mike Mills in a phone interview with FishbowlDC Tuesday afternoon, who said Battaglia’s departure “seemed sudden,” but “wasn’t as sudden as it seemed. I think it sort of crept up on everybody.”

Mills said he was not involved in Battaglia’s departure, though it is clear he was heavily involved in Editor Charlie Mitchell leaving the publication last fall, a move that triggered much grief throughout the newsroom. “I was not a part of any negotiation,” Mills said with a sigh that sounded like relief. “Refreshingly distant on the editorial side.”

He sung Battaglia’s praises effusively. “I gotta say though, I’m really going to miss Laurie,” he said. “She has been a terrific boss and a legendary leader over these 23 years.” He said he had spoken to her since the news, but didn’t want to characterize the conversation or say whether she was upset. “I can’t say enough about how much she brought to the company. The Economist gets  a third of its profits from CQ Roll Call. That was all her. She was a pioneer int his market. She has also been an inspiration as a woman leader. We just celebrated her being chosen as women who mean business by the Washington Business Journal a few months ago. Obviously I wish her the best and we’re friends and we’re going to continue to be friends. I’m very, very sad to see her leaving. She always wants what’s best for the company. I just feel badly.”

Editorial staff, meanwhile, was shocked by the news…

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Spotted at Mortons…

Former Roll Call Editor Charlie Mitchell and and HuffPost D.C. Bureau V.P. General Manager Peter Cherukuri were seen at Mortons late Friday afternoon in the smoker’s patio. This doesn’t mean they were smoking…but the air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke. Mitchell, now back at Inside Washington, appeared to be in good spirits. He said he’d have interesting news to share soon…we’re going to hold him to it.

Roll Call Ex-Editor Back at Inside Washington Publishers

Charlie Mitchell, the beloved editor who abruptly left Roll Call in late September under difficult management circumstances and to the great distress and sadness of his staff, has a new gig, or rather a new-old one. He’s back at Inside Washington Publishers. We tried to reach him. Apparently his extension is having technical difficulties. The receptionist reasoned, “because he’s new.”

Mitchell previously worked for National Journal Group. But before that, he spent eight years as a
reporter, editor and publisher for Inside Washington Publishers.

We hope to chat with Mitchell soon.

Montgomery Named Editor of Roll Call

Shortly after pushing  Charlie Mitchell out the door, CQ Roll Call Editorial Director Mike Mills referenced a  “national talent search” to replace the beloved editor.  Mills claimed to be on a mission for an “outside change agent” to fill the vacant spot.

Now only six weeks later, Mills’ “national search” has finally come to an end.  Interestingly enough, it ended where it began.  And that “outsider?”  Well, apparently at Roll Call even the “insiders” are “outsiders” because the company’s Director of Consumer Publishing Scott Montgomery was named new Editor this afternoon.  The news came in the form of an internal memo from Mills.

Memo obtained by FishbowlDC after the jump.

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CQ-Roll Call Adds, Shifts, but Still no Outside “Change Agent” as Management Recently Asserted

Roll Call-CQ Editorial Director Mike Mills lays out the new landscape for the publication in an e-mail to staff.

It’s lengthy, so here’s the summary:

- Announcements to come regarding expanding the pub beyond the Beltway to let people know “what’s really” happening in Congress.

- David Hawkings leaves Managing Editor post at CQ Weekly to become editor of new free e-mail newsletter called The CQ-Roll Call Daily Briefing.

- Fred Barbash replaces Hawkings as CQ Weekly’s Managing Editor.

- Steve Gettinger returns to CQ as deputy managing editor of CQ Weekly. He’ll work alongside Barbash.

So far, still no “change agent from the outside” addition as Mills said he wanted at the time of Roll Call Editor Charlie Mitchell‘s resignation. We’ll keep you posted.
Read the internal memo after the jump…

> Clarification: Mills has said he would find an “outside change agent” for the position of Roll Call Editor. This does not apply to CQ publications despite the operation being called CQ-Roll Call. According to Mills, Roll Call, CQ Weekly and CQ Today will remain separate and distinct — they are not merging into CQ-Roll Call.

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Roll Call’s Interim Editor Greets Reporters, Donuts Included at Morning Meeting

At 10 a.m. today, Roll Call‘s interim Editor Scott Montgomery held an introductory tall hall style meeting to get acquainted with reporters and other editorial staff. Dunkin Donuts were provided. CQ-Roll Call Editorial Director Mike Mills, who was involved in the resignation of Editor Charlie Mitchell last week, was not present.

The gist of the meeting was, “Hi, I’m the new guy, I’m not here to impose major change,” as one attendee relayed to FishbowlDC.

The feeling in the room, however, was, “Obviously a lot of concern. Are we doing anything wrong? I think that question comes up in every meeting, and the answer is, ‘I don’t know of anything that anyone’s doing wrong. I wasn’t sent here with a mission. Let’s keep striving for excellence.’”

But sadness lingers. The Roll Caller, referencing Mitchell’s departure, said,  “It’s just going to take time to go through that.”

The number of reporters in attendance did not indicate that a large number of scribes had skipped out on the meeting. There is a publication to put together together today, and some reporters were busy meeting deadlines. Montgomery did not appear to editorial staff to be looking too far down the road. “I don’t think he knows he wants to be a candidate for the full-time job,” said the attendee.

Roll Call Has Interim Editor: ‘The News Will Not Pause’ Says Internal Memo

An interim editor has been named for Roll Call. Mike Mills, Editorial Director of CQ-Roll, in an internal memo to staff details why Scott Montgomery, CQ-Roll Call’s Director of Consumer Publishing is the ideal choice at this time. Roll Call Editor Charlie Mitchell resigned last week under clearly strained circumstances as a distraught staff did not want to see him go. Mills told FishbowlDC last week that he wants to replace Mitchell with someone from “the outside” who could help him achieve the publication’s goals.

The memo:

I’m pleased to announce that Scott Montgomery, CQ-Roll Call’s Director of Consumer Publishing, will assume the role of Editor of Roll Call on an interim basis. He begins immediately and will remain in this capacity until I conclude the search for a more permanent replacement.

Scott is an ideal person to oversee the transition to a new Editor. He is a top-flight journalist who has experience leading teams of reporters and editors. In the 15 months since he arrived to lead the newly combined CQ-Roll Call politics team and Congress.org, he has worked closely with many of the editors, reporters and producers who publish Roll Call every day, in print and online. We’re fortunate to have someone with Scott’s blend of credentials so close at hand. Before he came back to Washington last summer to develop our free publishing strategy, Scott was the Government & Politics Editor for the St. Petersburg Times, where he ran their coverage in the statehouse and in Washington. How’d it go? Not so well for the Florida Speaker of the House, who — following a series of investigative pieces under Scott’s direction in the Tallahassee Bureau — was indicted, removed from office and now awaits trial on criminal charges. At the very same time, Scott was leading the paper’s national team that created PolitiFact.com, which won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. He has been an editor or reporter in daily journalism for more than 20 years, including a few good years at Congressional Quarterly, where he was Managing Editor of CQ Weekly.

I’m trusting Scott with this important job at this delicate time for reasons beyond his strong resume. On a personal level, Scott is approachable and even-handed. He won’t rattle and you can speak frankly with him. The news will not pause for us as we begin the transition to a new Editor and neither will we. I couldn’t be more pleased to have someone with Scott’s journalistic chops guiding this transition.

Mike

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