Friday, September 25, 2009


Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this, because it’s not about me, but since Jonathan has Tweeted already, and the news is public, I thought I would let family and friends know he was laid off Thursday by Congressional Quarterly, where he was one of the best – if not the best political reporters.

They not only advanced him not long after he started, but they lured him back with more money and new responsibilities a year after he left for greener pastures at a competitor.

In the meantime, he was on cable TV talk shows hundreds of times, each time free advertising for his employer. Along the way he won the two most prestigious awards available to someone in his field and outcompeted everyone, building sources on Capitol Hill, both parties and in the White House that are going to be hard to match.

But CQ was bought a couple of months ago by the competitor he had not yet worked for, and today, the company massacred 44 people. It was not a matter of the economy, because CQ and its new owner, Roll Call, are making money. Apparently not just enough.

This has been the trouble with the news media for about 25 years. They are virtually licensed to make profits, but since most American news media are publicly traded, profits are not enough. They must be stupendous profits.

From what I can figure, he was too expensive or simply disliked by someone in top management, which would be about the only person who cannot like this guy (and for those who know only me, I warrant that his personality is not mine!)

In the run-up to the layoffs, management had spoken euphemistically of reducing inefficiencies.

Well, Jonathan is many things, but he worked harder than anyone at that shop and is nothing if not efficient. We were once at a baseball game and when I muttered around the 7th inning that I wish he would stop playing with his Blackberry, he informed me he had written or contributed to three stories since the national anthem.

He will probably get offers, but nothing takes away the pain of losing your job. I have been in that position before, and not with the credentials Jon has. What happens today and tomorrow and tomorrow will tell him very clearly who his friends are. A lot of people will say the right things and then pretend you are dead. Your identity has been tied up with both a profession and an employer that no longer wants you. And, in his case, he value as a TV commentator is probably reduced to zilch now that he is not reporting the news every day.

The very nice thing about all this is that as the media blogs began spreading the word, it was Jonathan who was in or near the lead paragraphs.

What can be done? For starters, anyone who reads The Economist should unsubscribe. For it is that pseudo-august publication which owns the whole shebang that found Jonathan a mere “inefficiency.”

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