Capital editor: 'I’m not going to sleep for the next couple of years'

With its acquisition by Politico Publisher Robert Allbritton, the New York website Capital will go on a hiring spree, adding 20 or so journalists to its coverage of New York power centers.

"Out of the gate that means media and politics," Capital co-editor Tom McGeveran said in a phone call with Poynter, "with politics getting about twice as much firepower as media because it will be divided between New York City and Albany."

But media coverage will grow substantially, too. Right now, McGeveran said, the media desk focuses on the way New York outlets interact with New York -- like Joe Pompeo's relentless coverage of the New York Post or McGeveran's New York Times Kremlinology.

"We’ve sort of made it about local news and not media that is based in New York," McGeveran said. "That would be a more direct analogy to what Politico does in Washington": covering the national ripples made by people in its coverage area.

He said he could "imagine a very large version of the media beat" -- one that covers ad agencies and advertising, digital media, New York's magazine industry, sports journalism and the PR industry ("there's not really people doing the horserace coverage of who's getting" certain accounts, and that industry serves lobbyists, he notes).

McGeveran will edit that coverage, freed from duties like keeping the site online and scaring up cash: Currently, "if we want any revenue, Josh and I have to walk out the door and find it," he said, referring to Capital co-founder and co-editor Josh Benson, who will continue to edit political coverage. "Josh and I can go back to being the schlubby editorial guys we really are," he said.

Capital will focus on hiring reporters first and think about adding more editors down the line. All copy on Capital passes through an editor, something McGeveran does not expect to change, even as the site takes the injection of Politico's aggressive DNA that will accompany Robert Allbritton's cash. "We’re coming to play. We don’t do small ball," Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, who will also be Capital's president, told The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone.

McGeveran said he often gets up at 4:30 a.m. to edit stories so Capital can fire a volley of stories at readers each morning. "I have no quality of life at all," McGeveran said, laughing, when I asked him if the acquisition would let a little more air into his schedule. "I’m not going to sleep for the next couple of years. That’s not part of the bargain."

Capital will stay in its Hells Kitchen loft for the foreseeable future: "It’s actually a pretty big space so we’ll have room for a while," he said.

There's no immediate plan for the site to launch a print edition to bring in more revenue, but as McGeveran told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, the publication may move toward subscriptions on some content. He also told Wemple he likes Politico.

"There’s going to have to be a culture merge, and we’ll see how all that works itself out," McGeveran told Poynter. "One thing I feel pretty confident about is that Josh and I and our staffs will feel good about it."

Previously: Politico owner buys New York website Capital

Disclosure: I used to work for an Allbritton-owned publication,

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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