In a concession to the hyperkinetic pace of Washington, D.C., political reporting, The National Journal announced Thursday it will suspend publication of its print magazine at the end of the year and shift its resources to digital journalism.
“Over the years, National Journal has evolved from a solely journalistic enterprise into a comprehensive provider of tools, services, and journalism to help Washington practitioners of policy and politics do their jobs more successfully,” the announcement reads. “Today’s announcement is the next step in this evolution.”
Citing the frenetic daily grind of the D.C. news cycle, the announcement says that its readers have “shifted away from a weekly magazine to the higher-velocity work of the brand’s daily publications.”
The magazine has been publishing for 46 years.
In a lengthy staff memo, Atlantic Media Chairman David Bradley articulated a way forward for the National Journal brand, which includes moving the entirety of its journalism to the “higher-velocity work” of its daily publications, including National Journal Daily and Hotline.
The suspension of the magazine will be accompanied by a downsizing of the newsroom — but that doesn’t necessarily entail layoffs, Bradley writes:
Almost certainly, without the magazine, the size of our newsroom will be reduced. That said, I’m not drawn, here, to proposing layoffs. My intention is that our editors begin talking with each National Journal editorial staff member about what she or he would like to do – as a matter of first or second preference. We will do our best to help each person stay in place, or be reassigned, or transition to a new employer.
In its announcement, National Journal said the suspension of the magazine’s print publication would be accompanied by a strategy pivot toward “an increased focus on utilities, including daily coverage, news alerts, and tools that support the brand’s core users inside the Beltway.” The magazine will roll out new digital offerings in September which will emphasize mobile presentation and feature faster loading times.
According to a spokesperson for Atlantic Media, National Journal Editor-in-Chief and President Tim Grieve intend to lead the newsroom through the transition, as will magazine Editor Richard Just.
Bradley was by turns optimistic and plaintive in his memo, acknowledging that he “failed” the staff by his lack of attention to the magazine, even while charting a course for the future.
The more-personal statement is that, as to the magazine, I believe I failed. When I first entered publishing, Don Graham taught me his motto: ‘Eyes on, hands off.’ A few years back (before virtually any of you was in place), distracted from National Journal’s work, I took both my eyes and hands off the task. In the long run, I don’t think a weekly print magazine can thrive. Still, had I not failed for a time in my role, I think National Journal might have prospered longer.
Bradley and National Journal Group CEO Tim Hartman are addressing National Journal staffers in the outlet’s D.C. newsroom this afternoon. One eyewitness characterized the assembly, which has so far consisted of staffers listening to the two executives, as “somber.”