NEW YORK -- Since its 2007 debut, Politico has expanded its newsroom quickly while some legacy media outlets, like the Washington Post, have scaled back. But Politico isn't immune from having to restructure in the face of industry demands, and in recent days, it has laid off some staffers.
“So, now I'm self-employed,” photographer Jay Westcott tweeted Saturday. “Just got laid off by Politico.”
Jess Kamen, a technology reporter for Politico and Politico Pro, was also laid off, according to newsroom sources. There are believed to have been more layoffs, the sources say, but it's unclear how many at this time.
Politico editor-in-chief John Harris disputed any suggestion that Politico is retrenching, telling The Huffington Post that “we’re continuing to grow.”
“I expect we’ll be larger at the end of 2013 than at the beginning of 2013,” Harris said, adding that the organization has a “clear mandate” from publisher Robert Allbritton to expand.
In a follow-up email, Harris pointed out that Politico has 30 more employees than this time last year and that he expects staff to grow “by 30 more in the weeks and months ahead.”
It's not uncommon for a news organization that obsessively covers politics to reevaluate staffing after a major election. And there's already been some turnover at Politico in the new year.
Change has been expected as Politico for some time, as the start-up matures into a member of Washington's media establishment. The Huffington Post reported on Politico's growing newsroom and how the news organization was increasingly putting resources into Politico Pro, its policy-focused subscription service. Politico had over 225 staffers on the business and editorial sides as of last June.
Whether editor-in-chief John Harris and executive editor Jim VandeHei, Politico's co-founders, will stick around for long has been a hot topic in the newsroom since November, when the two sent out a memo that puzzled staffers.
In it, Harris and VandeHei dropped around 400 words before getting to the big news: Fred Ryan, chief executive of parent company Allbritton Communications, and owner Robert Allbritton had expanded the duties of Kim Kingsley, Politico's chief operating officer, who would begin "running the company day-to-day" and have power over both the business and editorial sides.
The memo noted that "John will continue to dedicate most of his time to directing editorial coverage; Jim will continue to dedicate most of his time to the broader strategic direction of the company; and both of us will continue to write as often as we can."
That line suggested to some staffers that Harris and VandeHei might be cutting back on their newsroom duties as Politico moved into what they described as the “next phase of its growth.”
Harris said there’s no truth to rumors he and VandeHei are scaling back their involvement in Politico. "We’re committed to staying,” he said.
Disclosure: This reporter worked for Politico from 2007 to 2010. This article was updated following an interview with Harris after publication. Harris, VandeHei, and Kingsley did not comment when approached by The Huffington Post prior to publication.
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