Weekly print edition of the National Journal to be shuttered ‘likely by year’s end’
DC-based political magazine was founded in 1969, and for years was owned by the publisher of the LA Times, before being purchased by its current owner
The weekly news magazine is a category in danger, and the latest example of this is National Journal, the political weekly published by Atlantic Media, which the publisher said it would shutter by year’s end.
In a memo to staff today Atlantic Media Chairman David Bradley said the emphasis going forward would be on the title’s website and daily product.
“After a great deal of reflection — and all the modeling and scenario planning you would expect — I’ve decided that the National Journal should move the whole of its journalism to the higher-velocity work of our daily publications, National Journal Daily and Hotline, and to our hour-by-hour coverage on NationalJournal.com,” Bradley wrote. “The bittersweet part of this writing, as you will have seen, is my conclusion that, likely at the year’s end, we should suspend publication of the National Journal print magazine.”
With the shuttering of the print magazine will job losses, though it is clear the publisher would like to reduce staff through voluntary separations.
“Almost certainly, without the magazine, the size of our newsroom will be reduced. That said, I’m not drawn, here, to proposing layoffs,” Bardley wrote. “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.”
National Journal was first published in 1969 and was for a number of years part of Times Mirror, owner of the Los Angeles Times. In 1997 it was purchased by Bradley, and along with The Hotline, made part of a new group, National Journal Group (a division of Atlantic Media Company).
In 2011 the magqazine moved away from a subscription model. Whereas they had previously charged $7,000 per year to subscribe, the magazine would not have a membership fee, $25,000 when introduced in 2011 ($15,000 for the initial charter member).
“My thought is just that, over time, breaking news in Washington reduces to a commodity product,” Bradley told readers in 2011. “It would be prudent if, already, we had lifted the originality of our products and the character of our relationships to a standard different in kind.”
But the membership fee was, in the end, negotiable: “Should we suggest a membership contribution higher than you find prudent or appropriate, we will lower our suggestion accordingly,” Bradley wrote.
In the end, not enough people became members.
“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.”
There will now be a September relaunch of the website, as well as expansion plans for National Journal Daily.