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Why Can’t Politico Find its Nat. Security Groove?

(From L to R): Lubold, Ewing and Hoskinson

Friday was Phil Ewing‘s last day writing Politico’s “Morning Defense” blog. His stint at the publication lasted less than six months. He’s now a blogger for DOD Buzz at Military.com. Gordon Lubold launched the early morning letter in May 2010 with the idea that it would be a “Playbook” for defense types. He left after eight months and now works as a senior advisor and writer at the United States Institute of Peace. The national security beat at Politico has collectively hit bumps in the road. Jen DiMascio, who covered defense, recently left for Aviation Week. As did Laura Rozen, who now works for Yahoo! News. Before Lubold, there was David Cloud, formerly of WSJ and NYT and now at LAT. He left after about four months.

Third time’s a charm? We’ll see how long Chuck Hoskinson, an in-house editor, who has taken over “Morning Defense” lasts with it.

When asked about the growing list of departures on this beat, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris told FishbowlDC: “The circumstances behind those individual departures vary quite a lot, but I think I won’t plunge into the details.”

Reasons for leaving include the following: lack of sleep, lack of resources toward the beat, lack of depth of understanding by Politico editors on what reporters on the beat must contend with in daily coverage.

Anyone who follows Politico‘s national security reporting closely can see that “Morning Defense” is on its third blogger since May. This summer management made a conscious decision before launching Politico Pro that defense news was not going to be part of Politico Pro’s lineup — it’s still unclear what their plans are for defense coverage.

The blog is said to have been embraced by the National Security community on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the Pentagon, all of which have fed it. One such blog loyalist observed to FishbowlDC on condition of anonymity: “Politico still doesn’t seem to be comfortable playing on a beat where they’ve clearly tried to make an effort but where continuity counts. It is hard to replicate their velocity/volume model in a field that isn’t necessarily as politically driven as other policy areas.”

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