Martin Kady, editor of Politico Pro, announced today that Marjorie Censer has been hired as Defense Editor. She previously wrote for WaPo‘s Capital Business, where she covered the defense industry for the past four years. She is also a former managing editor for Inside the Army, where she led a team of reporters covering Army policy and programs. Censer comes on board as Pro is shifting focus a bit in their defense coverage. While they will still have a reporter dedicated to the Pentagon, their coverage will now focus more heavily on the Hill, where greater emphasis will be placed on defense policy, spending, and influence.
Marjorie’s first day is March 10.
“Sorry to be a wet-blanket, but Washington’s collective celebration of House of Cards seems like a dereliction of our journalistic duty to be critical. We’ve participated in marketing a show to the rest of the country – Washington can’t get enough of House of Cards! – without acknowledging that it’s jumped the shark.”
We take Dylan’s point that DC journos have been the unwitting (or perhaps witting) marketing accomplices for the show, but so what? It’s not real. Do journalists really have an obligation to be critical of fiction. And pulp fiction at that?
“The second season of Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ was a pretty big let down.” he says. “The storylines were preposterous. The principle characters were flat and cliched. The efforts at narrative transgression, either violent or sexual, were pathetic and unconvincing.”
One could criticize “Scandal” (and definitely “Homeland”) for the same reasons. Except why would you? Call us low-brow, but while verisimilitude and believeability are certainly important aspects of a television show, they aren’t the only benchmarks worth measuring by. There’s also good writing, excitement, surprise, catharsis, emotional engagement, titillation, and provocation -all of which “House of Cards” has in spades (ha).
And we’d beg to differ that the characters are any more flat than C.J. Craig or Sam Seaborn or Jed Bartlett -all glorified archetypes of Washington do-gooders. The dialogue in “The West Wing” was patently unbelievable -as was the idea that anyone could possibly be so completely driven by altruism and patriotism and be without serious personality flaws. But those characters were still compelling. Their struggles and travails were still of interest to viewers. And the actors who portrayed them still gave masterful performances. And ultimately, “The West Wing” was entertaining -the only measure that really matters on television in the end. We saw what happens when you try to hew too closely to the truth in a fictitious show about politics and journalism. It’s called “The Newsroom,” and it’s cancelled.
And wethinks Mr. Byers doth protest too much.
“The backslapping enthusiasm that greeted Matt Bai, Julianna Goldman, Major Garrett and other guest-starring journalists on Twitter only reinforces the idea that the Beltway media is self-obsessed,” he says.
Perhaps it is not disgust he feels, but guilt. Politico has, perhaps more than any other single institution, made its name on sensationalizing the oft-boring world of Washington politics and encouraging self-indulgence among journalists (See: This Town). It strikes us as rather rich that he laments the salacious and ridiculous way a fictional Washington is portrayed by Netflix, while his own publication does the same thing in real life. One ought not throw stones in glass houses -even at houses made of cards.
Politico is doubling down on their video production efforts with the debut of a new, snazzy “Driving the Day” video series featuring Anna Palmer, Manu Raju, Alex Burns, and Jake Sherman. Much of the Washington-based media, including The Hill, WaPo, USA Today, and Politico have already made forays into digital video -with middling results. Poor audio quality, along with on-screen talent better suited for print have been hallmarks of the online political video genre. But Politico‘s latest venture -complete with theme music and cable net-style intro sequence -is a marked escalation in production values over their competitors.
It’s no surprise that the political media would be eager to put their talent in front of cameras. It’s good business. Indeed, Politico pioneered a web-to-cable strategy that is largely credited with their meteoric rise to prominence. The website is housed in the same Arlington office building as fellow Allbritton Communications property WJLA ABC 7, and was able to take advantage of the station’s satellite hook-up to feed their reporters remotely onto the cable news channels.* The result was an explosion in name recognition for the brand as well as for the stable of reporters who could easily offer analysis on MSNBC or CNN without those networks having to do the work of bringing them in-studio.
Now, all the other DC pubs are following suit and web videos are a part of the strategy -essentially serving as sophisticated cable news audition videos for print talent. But Politico is still at the leading edge. Palmer, Raju, Burns, and Sherman are hardly as television-ready as say, Patrick Gavin -who was one of top contenders to replace Howie Kurtz on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” but Politico clearly believes in them enough to give them a platform to develop their skills.
*Update, 2.19.14, 8:26 PM: It should also be noted that Politico had a partnership early on with “Face the Nation” and CBS News which resulted in John Harris, Jim VandeHei, and other Politico personalities making many appearances on that network prior to and coinciding with appearances on cable channels.
There’s a new perk to subscribing to National Journal these days. Now, online members and subscribers have access to a Digital Document Library -billed by NJ as “a one-stop searchable database of tens of thousands of documents aggregated from a wide range of policy and politics sources.” The magazine worked with noodls, a real-time global information aggregator, to create the library.
Users will have access to research reports, testimonies, white papers, and press releases updated in near real-time from the websites of hundreds of sources that include global government agencies, think tanks, trade associations, and academic and corporate institutions. While NJ members and subscribers are given full access to the Document Library’s advanced search and alerting features. Non-members and visitors to NationalJournal.com are only given limited access.
All in all, there were 41,408 documents to peruse, going back to just the past year. That isn’t a huge reservoir of information, but with 177 documents listed as being added today, the library should become much more useful over time.