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Updated: The CQification of Roll Call

If the top brass at CQ Roll Call has its way, Roll Call may soon be no more. At least not in its current form. For at least the past six months plans have begun to roll the two publications into one. A team is in place redesigning both the print and online products. Employees from the business and ad sides of the publication have all been briefed.

The reporters? Not so much.

A possible press release is expected this week. We’re beating them to it.

We’ve reached out to Roll Call PR for comment and will post something when and if they have anything to say. (Updated below…)

Discussions about a possible merger have been ongoing, but we’re also hearing that the idea of something concrete happening is still not set in stone nor has a definitive deadline been set. But then again, brass communicates what it wants to whom it wants to.

When we privately surveyed Roll Call reporters, both past and present, they knew largely nothing about it. Culturally, many Washington newsrooms are run like this, but Roll Call in particular operates under a “reporters are always the last to know” policy. Roll Call editors were briefed within the past few weeks. So far, no word on potential layoffs.

FishbowlDC has learned that CQ Roll Call, presumably the new name of this merged publication in the works, showed the new product to a focus group who, our spy tells us, “shat all over it.”

Roll Call reporters who heard an inkling of the news are not thrilled about the potential merger. They see CQ as the “boring” publication. They roll their eyes at the wonkier pub. Meanwhile, there’s a certain edge of competitiveness — we’ve heard of at least one instance where CQ tried to steal a Roll Call scoop. “The whole thing about RC is, we don’t do substance it’s all about the personalities and conflicts and CQ is all substance,” said one reporter on condition of anonymity. Undoubtedly if the big plan drops, the newsrooms will be forced to learn how to live together in a newly meshed lifestyle — kind of a like a nerd and a beauty queen.

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: Keith White, Executive VP of CQ Roll Call, issued a statement to CQ Roll Call staff in response to our story. Take note of his careful, precise wording. Nowhere does he say that the publications are not folding into one, abandoning Roll Call as it now stands. But he says the “notion” that they are doing away with the Roll Call brand is “preposterous.” Which was never the news is the first place. See the well-scripted non-denial denial after the jump…

Folks:

As you may have heard, yes, CQ and Roll Call have merged – in 2009, and we are now operating many of our products under the CQ Roll Call banner. Yes, our editorial and product teams are talking to readers about the best ways to package and present our news, in print, online and in digital forms.

The notion, however, that we are about to eliminate one of the strongest and most relied upon brands in our market is preposterous. Quite the contrary, we are investing in market research and product design to strengthen the value of all of our products to provide the greatest value to readers and marketers.

When we talk to customers, it is humbling to hear how much they rely on us for the most trusted, comprehensive, insightful and enjoyable journalism on Congress. That is a testament to the hard work and talent of the best news team in town. I thank you all – whether you consider yourself nerdy, beautiful, or like CQ Roll Call, a little bit of both.

Thanks,

Keith

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