If the ear-splitting decibel level was any indication, the media mavens and money men had plenty to talk about today. My lunch date, Steve Komarow, CQ Roll Call’s vice president and news director, certainly did. Up from Washington for a quick trip (he was catching the 3 o’clock Acela back to DC after our lunch), I was glad he made time to meet me and dish about the mood on the Hill, size up the head-scratching presidential campaigns and talk about CQ Roll Call’s position as the go-to source for news and analysis for Washington insiders. Lisa Linden, CEO of LAK PR, who knows more Beltway power brokers than anyone else I know, arranged our confab.
Steve, who is celebrating his first anniversary at the helm, oversees the largest newsroom dedicated to coverage of Congress and has a CV that is ripe for the Showtime treatment. “I’ve never had a beat I didn’t like,” he said. Steve got his start in the ’80s as a local news reporter for the Associated Press in Washington in the 1980s. “Marion Barry was mayor — it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said between bites of Cobb salad. Then, he moved to Capitol Hill — “at the time of the Jim Wright scandal [the congressman resigned in 1989] and the end of Tip O’Neill’s term as Speaker.”
A decade later, he landed at USA Today as a defense correspondent, covering three secretaries of defense and military operations in several war zones like Haiti and the Balkans. He made headlines as the first reporter to cover a cruise missile launch from inside a B-52 bomber. When I asked Steve if he was an adrenaline junkie, he seemed amused and said simply, “I like to challenge myself.”
Steve was embedded with the U.S. Army during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and went on to cover the capture and trial of Saddam Hussein, reconstruction efforts, and the insurgency. In 2006, Komarow returned to the AP as deputy international editor in New York, overseeing journalists in more than 90 countries before moving to the Washington bureau. He also did a stint at Bloomberg News before landing at CQ Roll Call.
It was clear talking to Steve that he is very much the political news junkie who enjoys the digital “deep dive” CQ offers to its subscribers. Although you might not know it from the exhaustive media coverage of the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls, “There is a lot of [other] serious stuff going on” in Washington and CQ Roll Call’s readers are looking for all the inside baseball intel they can get. “Our readers are professional people in the White House and Congress, federal agencies, lobbyists. They are very interested in process, policy and regulations. They are looking for a very specific level of detail. It’s our job to keep our eye on the ball.”
And so they do. Last summer, Congress was trying to pass an appropriations bill just after the Charleston, S.C., church shooting. “There had been several Democratic amendments and late one night, the Calvert Amendment from the Republicans came through that would have undone the ban [in the previous iterations] on the Confederate flag at cemeteries managed by the National Parks Service. No one caught it, but we did. It was pulled from the floor and there was an uproar on the Hill. After that they never passed another [appropriations bill].”
“Almost everything” is behind a paywall because, explained Steve, “Our subscribers are looking for an edge. We have to provide news and analysis they can’t get from other sources.” Gone are the days when hearings provided true “oh my god” moments, said Steve. “They’re scripted and more for show.” As for the information that comes out of Congress itself, “There’s a misconception that everything about Congress is online. It takes real work and a certain level of reporting to find out what’s really happening and give insight on what could happen next as opposed to what they tell you is happening. Congress is full of clues and we know the code.” The site also serves as a subscriber resource with lengthy profiles of every single member of Congress. The print magazine, CQ Weekly, serves as “a showcase for our reporters’ best work.”
Steve is expanding CQ Roll Call’s coverage of state news (“There’s much more being done at the state level than the federal level”) and is in the process of designing a new digital edition of the magazine. There are also podcasts on various topics available on iTunes. While the site is all about using the best technology to deliver the latest digital news, Steve believes strongly in accuracy over speed. “People pay for reliability and it’s our job to provide accurate accounts of what’s happening. That’s what the amateurs out there can’t do. We’re very much a gumshoe organization.” Next week, Steve will be making “a significant personnel announcement” that is sure to get people talking.
If you’re a reporter “who loves covering policy,” CQ Roll Call may be the place for you. Steve, who in his teenage years toiled as a butcher in a Westport, Conn., steakhouse, explained it this way: “You’ve got to love finding out how the sausage is made.” Reporters also have to be comfortable reading and interpreting data in the ream of reports out of Congress. “You’ve got to understand when someone is trying to bamboozle you.” And, of course, having a thick skin is absolutely essential. “Congress can be intimidating. I sometimes have to tell young reporters your job is to be the skunk at the picnic.”
That was the perfect segue to ask Steve what he thought about Donald Trump. He declined to offer his own opinions (“I’ve got to stay objective”), but said the genuine discontent among some voters has helped fuel his rise. Still, “It’s too early to make predictions. In three weeks, after Iowa and New Hampshire, things are going to look a lot different.” After watching an episode of The Good Wife, which made the Iowa caucus look a high school popularity contest (A silly story line had Chris Noth‘s character running for president) I asked Steve to explain its true significance. “Iowa is an institution, but it’s actually not a very good predictor [for the election’s outcome] but it might narrow the field some.”
No doubt things will only get more interesting in Washington as the election draws near. “Congress is in turmoil. The Republican party is divided and the Democrats on the Hill are unusually quiet,” said Steve as we finished up lunch. “There’s a lot of quirky people in Washington. We’re doing our best to be useful.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman amid a sea of suits
2. Harry Macklowe
3. New York Magazine publisher Larry Burstein and Maurie Perl
4. Jim Abernathy with Penske Media vice chairman Gerry Byrne
5. Catie Marron
6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield and blink and you missed him Andy Bergman
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with Barbara Liberman
9. Lynn Nesbit and Kathy Lacey
11. Chris Taylor
12. Wenda Harris Millard
14. Keith Reinhard
15. New Criterion EIC James Panero (who I ‘Lunched’ with a while back) and wife Dara Mandle chatting about her upcoming 10th anniversary Poet’s Night on April 5 at the National Arts Club. James has a lengthy piece on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in The Wall Street Journal next week. Quite the busy media couple, no?
16. Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff sporting his usual country club couture — Loved the yellow v-neck!
17. Two of my favorite Michael’s regulars: PR maven extraordinaire Judy Twersky who always connecting me to the most interesting collection of bold facers (Charles Spencer, Dennis Hof and Heidi Fleiss – bet you never thought you’d see those names in the same sentence!) and Susan Silver, the talented comedy writer and the female voice behind The Mary Tyler Moore show, Maude, The Bob Newhart Show and The Partridge Family. If you want have some laughs over lunch these are definitely two gals you should know.
18. Steve Komarow, Lisa Linden and yours truly
19. The ‘Two Joans’ — the fabulous producer Joan Gelman and the First Lady of radio Joan Hamburg who can be found on 77 WABC
21. Quest’s Chris Meigher and Peter Lyden
22. Barry Frey, who stopped by our table to ask Steve about Donald Trump’s latest stunt involving his feud publicity stunt with Fox News and PR princess Maury Rogoff
25. Tom Goodman
28. Bisila Bokoko
29. House Beautiful’s Kate Kelly Smith
81. Vicky Ward
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
Via The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone, it was revealed this afternoon that Bloomberg Politics Washington news editor Kathy Kiely has taken the ultimate stand. Concerned about limitations surrounding her ability to properly cover the political aspirations of boss Michael Bloomberg, she has tendered her resignation.
The first wave of reaction is, predictably, nothing but praise. Among those congratulating Kiely on her principled stand are the Boston Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan, PRI’s David Beard, AI Monitor correspondent Barbara Slavin, former colleagues Tom Lee and USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco.
— Jim O’Sullivan (@JOSreports) January 27, 2016
— David Beard (@dabeard) January 27, 2016
— Barbara Slavin (@barbaraslavin1) January 27, 2016
— Tom Lee (@tjl) January 27, 2016
— Robert Bianco (@BiancoRobert) January 27, 2016
After attending a luncheon during which she was presented with the sixth annual Visionary Leadership Award from the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, WuDunn gave a 4 p.m. afternoon Master’s Tea talk titled “A Path Appears: Why Should We Change the World?” From Yale News associate editor Susan Gonzalez’s solid summary:
One of the biggest challenges she faced reporting in China, WuDunn said, was that she and other reporters were constantly being followed by government agents.
“You have to be careful about who and where you are getting information from,” she said. “You constantly had to look around to see who was behind you. Sometimes it was just to scare us, to back us off, sometimes not. It was a huge psychological burden.”
At one point during the Tea discussion, a student asked how they could follow in her path. To read the answer from WuDunn, who was visiting campus as a Poynter Journalism Fellow, click here.
Hannah Gordon, a journalism and communications student at St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York, recently got a golden ticket of sorts. She was invited to come to New York and have her resume and clips reviewed by editor Richard Jones, a New York Times editor who directs the paper’s Student Journalism Institute.
Gordon has long dreamed of working at the paper. But as she writes post-visit, the quiet newsroom vibe and other factors changed her mind:
Finally, I met Margaret Sullivan, the public editor. She’s from my hometown, Lackawanna, and offered advice and other contacts for me to network with. Then she asked how I liked the Times – and I was honest.
I told her I was disappointed… I did not find the bustling, comradery-filled newsroom I imagined. My visit made me realize it was sterile journalism. While I longed to have my name and picture on its wall of Pulitzer Prize winners, I knew I wouldn’t fit in to the culture there. I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a place where I couldn’t fully express my creativity and quirkiness while still producing solid copy and respectable work every day. My talk with Ms. Sullivan helped me realize that.
Gordon will not lack for other options. As a profile this week on her school’s website outlines, she has written for The Buffalo News, USA Today and has the kind of initiative required today in the media field:
“Hannah stops in to see me at the start of every semester to tell me what she’s been doing over the break. It is such a delight because she has so much energy, enthusiasm and passion for her work,” said Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, dean of the Jandoli School. “She studied for a semester in the Czech Republic. When she returned, she pitched the idea of telling stories of her time there to The Buffalo News. What a pleasure to open the paper and see stories I know were pitched by her.”
Gordon is set to graduate in December, a semester ahead of her student cycle’s normal schedule. And of course, she could always changed her mind vis-a-vis the NYT.
[Photo via: sbu.edu]
Beyond the twenty nominated actors at this year’s Oscars, there is a glimmer of #OscarsSoDiverse in the form of Best Documentary Feature nominee What Happened, Miss Simone?
The acclaimed Netflix documentary, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, could very well be a punchline in host Chris Rock‘s opening monologue. As director Liz Garbus explains in the current issue of Deadline’s AwardsLine, the film owes its title to another African-American trailblazer:
“We were searching for a very long time for a title for the film. I looked at all the great writers who had written about Nina. Ossie Davis read a brilliant eulogy at her funeral. And then finally a wonderful researcher came upon this fabulous 1970s article from Redbook that Maya Angelou had written, and in that article I found the title. That was very late in the process; we were down to the wire. They were on opposite ends of the decision-making pole, but because the opening scene was like a question – and Dr. Angelou was asking the same question – it seemed to fit.”
The category favorite is Amy, the documentary about the late Amy Winehouse. To view the November 1970 Redbook article in question, click here. The key excerpt:
Her sinewy fingers knit dark patterns in the air as she explains that history, Black history, lives for her in the urgency of today, the past being the very alive parent of the future.
A listener, enraptured, is reluctant to interrupt this voice that has whispered “love” into thousands of ears and shouted “revolution” into the hearts of millions.
But what happened, Miss Simone? Specifically, what happened to your big eyes that quickly veil to hide the loneliness? To your voice that has so little tenderness, yet flows with your commitment to the battle of Life? What happened to you?
Rolling Stone has launched its first podcast — Rolling Stone Music Now. The show is hosted by executive editor Nathan Brackett and features music news, interviews with musicians and more.
Regular Rolling Stone writers and editors joining Brackett on Music Now include Brian Hiatt, Rob Sheffield, David Fricke, Brittany Spanos, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Andy Greene, Josh Eells, Jason Newman, Patrick Doyle and Kory Grow.
You can subscribe to Music Now via the iTunes store.
As Hugh Ryan reports for NPR, the magazine is aimed at gay black men. Each issue has a limited print run of 400 issues:
The magazine began as a personal project between Khary Septh and Kyle Banks, who are boyfriends in real life. They wanted to create a photographic collage of a group of their queer black friends, all creative professionals working in various industries around New York City whose aesthetic influence, The Tenth’s founders say, can be found everywhere from Beyonce’s looks to FK Twig’s moves.
Septh and Banks wanted their collage to spotlight individuals whose influence is almost always behind the scenes, but they never thought it would go beyond the walls of their Brooklyn loft.
Ryan goes on to detail the struggle of The Tenth to find advertiser support. An exception is The Ace Hotel, which in Los Angeles hosted the launch event this month for Volume 3.
President-elect Michael Bloomberg (we kid!) is worth roughly $49 billion. That’s according to Recode, which claims to have a more accurate number than Forbes, which said Bloomberg was worth a measly $35.6 billion.
“The former New York City mayor’s wealth is almost entirely sewn up in his company, which means he’s worth whatever his company is worth, or what someone might be willing to pay for it,” explained Recode.
Because Forbes’ number is based on a look at Bloomberg LP in 2013, the $49 billion mark is likely more accurate. We’re glad this is all cleared up.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, one of the most well-regarded NBA reporters, plans to launch his NBA site The Vertical this Friday, Jan. 29.
In an interview with Katie Nolan, Wojnarowski gave his fans plenty of details about the new site.
The Vertical will debut with a behind-the-scenes look at an NBA team as it prepares for a regular season game. The piece will be penned by Michael Lee, who previously worked for The Washington Post. Chris Mannix, formerly of Sports Illustrated, will host The Vertical’s video features and JJ Redick, currently of The LA Clippers, will host a weekly podcast. That’s in addition to The Vertical podcast, hosted by Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski has been with Yahoo since 2006. The New York Post reported that he recently signed a four-year contract extension with Yahoo that will pay him roughly $2 million a year.
National Geographic Partners has named George Stone editor in chief of National Geographic Travel.
Stone has worked for Traveler as a writer and editor for the past 18 years, most recently serving as an editor at large.
“George’s passion about the power of travel to transform lives and connect cultures is evident in his work as a writer and editor for Traveler for nearly two decades,” said Partners’ editorial director and National Geographic editor in chief Susan Goldberg, in an announcement. “George has a knack for creating print and digital features that resonate with new audiences — and reflect his spirit of adventure and fun.”
Stone will report to Goldberg.
For the Sioux City Journal in Iowa, Ally Karsyn is a features reporter while Kirby Kaufman covers City Hall and Native American issues. But tonight, on stage, they will be fellow storytellers, kicking off a once-a-month event devised by Karsyn.
Karsyn was inspired in part by The Moth, the themed storytelling series launched in New York in 1997. Here’s how she recently explained her free-admission project to Journal readers:
One of my favorite things about being a journalist is being able to connect with people I would not otherwise get to meet. It’s a privilege to be invited into people’s homes, into their lives, if only briefly, to sit down at a kitchen table with them and just talk.
It’s made my life so much richer and better than I could ever imagine and that’s something I can’t keep to myself. It must be shared.
That’s why I’m starting a little something called Ode, a storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy.
The stories to be told the last Wednesday of each month must be true, able to be related in 10 minutes or less and read from a prepared, first-person essay. Joining the pair of reporters for kick off tonight at 7 p.m. at ISU Design West will be writer Donna Brooks and motivational speaker John Paul Engel.
Per the illustration above, the debut theme is breaking points and new beginnings. The Facebook page for the event series can be found here.
The drama between Nexstar, Meredith and Media General is officially over. Nexstar has agreed to purchase Media General for $4.6 billion in cash and stock. The new, combined company will be called Nexstar Media Group.
Last September a deal between Meredith and Media General was almost completed, but Nexstar stepped in with a sweeter proposal. Don’t feel too bad for Meredith though, it is getting a $60 million termination fee from Nexstar.
The transaction—which is expected to close by the end of the year—was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
Perry Sook, Nexstar’s chairman, president and CEO, described the deal as “strategically and financially compelling.” Sounds about right.
A couple Revolving Door items for you this morning, involving USA Today and Bustle. Details are below.Michael Kuntz has joined USA Today as senior vice president of digital revenue. He most recently served as Gawker Media’s senior vice president of global sales and partnerships. Bustle has named Emily Shire politics editor. She previously worked for The Daily Beast.
Delayed for a day by the weekend blizzard, 25 journalism students from the University of Georgia made their way back home Monday night. During their six-day visit, they met with various New York media companies and organizations.
One of the more motivating tours the group took was at AOL. That’s because the person giving the tour, Lesley Hauler, was this time last year herself a journalism student at UGA. Now, she was the one giving the tour in NYC instead of taking them in 2015.
— Lesley Hauler (@LesleyHauler) January 22, 2016
The group leveraged the blizzard into some local news coverage and their own report. The school’s DiGamma Kappa Professional Broadcast Society, which organizes these trips, was established in 1939.
Twitter makes big changes at the top, as Katie Jacobs Stanton and Kevin Weil leave. They were in charge of media and product, respectively. Engineering head Alex Roetter is also out, along with Brian Schipper, who had been vice president of human resources, and Vine general manager Jason Toff. That’s a pretty remarkable turnover, and there could be more moves in the near future as CEO Jack Dorsey attempts to turn around his flagging company, which saw its stock fall to an all-time low after the news. Insiders expect Dorsey to take on a larger, product-focused role going forward, while CTO Adam Messinger “will be taking over all of engineering and consumer product, design and research user service, and Fabric into one group,” according to Dorsey…
New York Times graphics editor Amanda Cox is the new editor of The Upshot. “Amanda Cox has a singular reputation among her colleagues with The Upshot and the Graphics desk. She’s creative and collegial and has a rare force of intellect,” writes executive editor Dean Baquet… Time Inc. taps John Marcom as senior vice president, strategy and business development, for the company’s international business. He was most recently a co-founder of Media BBQ but had worked at Time Inc. in the past, including as publisher of the Asia edition… Shax Riegler takes over as executive editor of Architectural Digest. He had been content lead at the Consumer Reports Home and Appliances group. His experience in the shelter world includes stints at House Beautiful and House & Garden…
Things have worked out extremely well for Eric Noe (pictured) since he departed New York in 2014 for the West Coast. At the time, he was managing editor of ABC News digital and though Participant Media has extremely solid financial backing, it was still a bit of a career gamble.
Noe joined takepart.com as editor in chief and two years later, has added the title of senior vice president. As such, his purview has been expanded:
Noe will oversee all aspects of digital content development, production and publishing for takepart.com. Under his leadership, TakePart has launched multiple editorial tentpoles focused on current issues. Overall, the tentpoles successfully garnered 1.8 million page views and 1.6 million visits.
Participant Media has also announced that TakePart colleague Jay Ku has been promoted to senior vice president in charge of advertising and brand solutions. Ku started the same year as Noe, 2014, as vice president. Both will report to executive vice president of digital Karina Kogan.
TakePart currently has a staff of 20 full-time writers and editors. Among the personnel: editorial director, environment Todd Woody, previously with Forbes, Fortune and Quartz; deputy editor Sarah Wright-Killinger, formerly of Yahoo News and the L.A. Times; news editor Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, who joined from the Associated Press; culture and education editor Liz Dwyer; and food and culture editor Willy Blackmore.
Joanna Coles is quite hip. According to WWD, the editor of Cosmopolitan has joined Snapchat’s board of directors.
For those wondering, Hearst president David Carey doesn’t see any conflict of interest.
“Here at Hearst, potential board roles are reviewed on a case-by-case basis,” Carey told WWD. “I’m very pleased that Joanna is on the board of directors of such an important and ascendant technology company.”
Cox was most recently the Times’ graphics editor. She joined the company in 2004.
“Amanda Cox has a singular reputation among her colleagues with The Upshot and the Graphics desk,” wrote Times executive editor Dean Baquet, in a memo to staffers. “She’s creative and collegial and has a rare force of intellect. She is responsible for some of the most innovative work the Times has done over the last decade, and her input has lifted the work of dozens of Times journalists.”
In related news, Kevin Quealy has been named a deputy editor of The Upshot.
But after that long run as deputy night editor, assistant news editor and deputy digital editor, the 44-year-old Shields is crossing over to amNewYork to become the rival paper’s editor in chief. From today’s announcement:
“I’m thrilled Bob Shields is joining the talented amNewYork team,” said Debby Krenek, Newsday editorial director and senior vice president digital media. “He is a seasoned journalist who will build on the strong foundation of Manhattan’s highest daily circulation newspaper.”
Added Shields: “I’m excited to lead the staff at amNewYork, which is a great newspaper. amNewYork has its finger on the pulse of the city and I look forward to bringing readers new and stimulating stories.”
Shields began his newspaper career in 1993 at Oneonta’s The Daily Star.
Headline of the day, so far. https://t.co/NvVA8VZXDu
— Robert Shields (@rshields37) January 26, 2016