National Journal Fails As Politico Killer

There aren't enough readers who want political reporting that's "more substantive than POLITICO and much more sophisticated than C.Q." and willing to pay for it.

Dylan Byers, reporting on yet another major reorganization at National Journal magazine:

The reorganization suggests an acknowledgment by Atlantic Media owner David G. Bradley that an experiment which began two years ago — to refashion the pricey, policy-heavy weekly magazine into a direct competitor with POLITICO and other fast-paced Washington news outlets — did not work.

During its relaunch in 2010, Brownstein told the New York Times that National Journal was “much more substantive than POLITICO and much more sophisticated than C.Q. or Bloomberg in terms of its understanding of how things happen or don’t happen in Washington.”

Alas, it could not make that case to readers.

Alternatively, there aren’t enough readers who want political reporting that’s “more substantive than POLITICO and much more sophisticated than C.Q.” and willing to pay for it. National Journal has been a prestige brand as long as I can remember but priced itself such that only Hill staffers and others whose employers were willing and able to pay sky high subscription prices were able to read it. Then, they were mostly doing long form journalism. Now, they’re doing the same thing as POLITICO and The Hill and BuzzFeed: Breezy, short-lived pieces with a short shelf life. I’m not sure there’s a big audience for news that’s simultaneously ephemeral and takes a long time to absorb.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:

    National Journal may have the content, but I don’t think they’ve worked themselves into the web conversation as well as the others.

    (I’m not sure I’ve ever been to the NJ homepage before. Crappy. Boring. They’re doing it wrong.)

  2. john personna says:

    (The American Conservative does a much better homepage, with more dynamic positioning of changing stories. Best in class.)

  3. John Peabody says:

    Heh-heh-heheh– he said “ephemeral”…. heh-heh

  4. Geek, Esq. says:

    Does Politico even break a profit?

    Surprised Murdoch hasn’t offered to buy it.