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Politico is reassigning several of its media reporters to other beats as the publication shifts the tone of its media section to focus more on politics and less on industry news.
According to multiple sources who spoke with Business Insider on the condition of anonymity, Politico on Monday will reassign media reporters Peter Sterne and Kelsey Sutton to other beats. Deputy media editor Alex Weprin started to assist other desks on a temporary basis earlier this month.
Media reporters Hadas Gold and Joe Pompeo will remain in their current roles as the organization intends to focus more specifically on the intersection of media and politics.
“The Politico media beat is not going to continue to run the way it has,” one source told Business Insider. “They are going to move it to DC and change it substantially. It will be more about the intersection between media and politics and less about the business of media.”
The shake-up is also part of the reorganization of Politico’s state politics initiative, which was previously headquartered in New York but covered state politics in Florida, California, and New Jersey. Some employees in New York are being asked to move to Washington to work out of Politico’s Rosslyn, Virginia, headquarters starting around May.
According to an internal memo that deputy editor Reid Pillifant sent to staffers this month, managing editor Gillian Reagan will leave Politico on Friday for a new position at Shutterstock. Reagan oversaw the states project and cofounded Capital New York with Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran, each of whom left in January.
Members of the New York team are said to be searching for jobs at other publications, though one source stressed that Politico was giving staffers a soft landing by allowing them to stay aboard in other roles.
The changes slightly curtail Politico’s four-year bid to replicate its success as an insider publication for New York readers.
Politico bought Capital New York in 2013, announcing that it would compete for state-level scoops with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and state-level tabloids by quadrupling the publication’s staff and focusing “laser-like on New York and its power centers, including the media, city and state politics, culture, and business.”
Capital New York relaunched as Politico New York in 2015, combining Capital New York and Politico media desks under McGeveran’s leadership that then-executive editor Jim VandeHei hoped would provide “more thorough reporting on the [media] industry for our subscribers and more stories that pop nationally on our main page.”
A year later, the organization took down the paywall for its media stories, as some speculated that the price for a media pro subscription was most likely too high for many potential consumers.
There are different interpretations for the reshuffling of Politico’s media staff.
Two sources at Politico assigned some blame for the move on the fact that industry news did not attract a large amount of traffic and was not a revenue driver. Such news was originally intended to be provided as a paid subscription product. Another pointed at VandeHei’s departure for Axios, saying new management did not prioritize the effort to own the business-of-media beat.
It’s unclear whether next week’s shake-up will be the last change for Politico’s media coverage.
A source at Politico also told Business Insider that there were internal “rumblings” that the Morning Media newsletter run by Pompeo “could be axed if they are not able to find sponsors for it.” But another source at the organization denied that the newsletter was in jeopardy, saying the media newsletter was among the most read at Politico. A Politico representative strongly denied that the Morning Media newsletter was in jeopardy.
Politico’s refocus on Washington comes at a moment when political media stories continued to dominate national headlines.
In his first months in office, President Donald Trump has been one of the most engaged consumers and critics of different media outlets.
The president frequently engages with media figures directly on Twitter or refers to segments he’s seen on shows like “The O’Reilly Factor,” “Fox and Friends,” and “Morning Joe,” where advertisers and politicians often appeal to Trump directly as if he is watching.
Fox News pundits and Breitbart News employees have filled out key posts in the new administration, while other conservative media figures have flirted with roles in the administration or are waiting in the wings for the next rounds of hiring.
While networks like CNN and MSNBC have seen their ratings skyrocket, newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times have seen their subscriptions increase since Trump’s election in November. Even entertainment sites like the AV Club and Entertainment Weekly have begun blogging about the intersection between politics and the news media.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include additional information and comment from a Politico spokesperson.