WSJ shuffles DC jobs, creates business and government team
Wall Street Journal executive Washington editor Gerald Seib and DC bureau chief Paul Beckett sent out the following announcement on Friday:
To the bureau:
You know as well as we do that the pace of news around here hasn’t slackened in the least since the election. In fact, it has picked up for everybody in the bureau, and we’d like to thank all of you for the tireless effort that has kept us at the front of the most important story in the country and the world.
In light of that, to say that this is a time of transition would be an understatement of considerable proportions. All at once, we have on our hands the standard transition from election season to new administration; the bigger transition from Obama World to Trump World; and our own bureau leadership transition. On top of all that, we have a few (regrettable) departures because of the buyouts.
As a result, the usual post-election reconfiguration of the bureau has been more complicated this time. But the two of us have been working closely together, and in consultation with many of you, on a series of changes in the bureau, and we’re pleased to announce here some moves we’re making to deal with the new world.
First, thanks to our lead transition reporting team, which is soon to be our Trump White House team, for keeping us ahead of the Trump story. That White House team will be Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas, Mike Bender and Damian Paletta, all working under the strong leadership of Jeanne Cummings. Janet Hook and Reid Epstein are moving from election coverage to coverage of the still-shaking national political landscape, with a particular emphasis on how the Democratic party recovers and remakes itself. Laura Meckler will explore the changing demographics of America that underlie much of today’s political upheaval, focusing particularly on the giant immigration debate that lies just ahead.
We all have seen how dramatically and immediately Donald Trump is altering the relationship between business and government, and there is simply no more important story than that for The Wall Street Journal. With that in mind, we are creating a new group within the bureau to cover the intersection of business interests and government action, and asking Susan Benkelman to take charge of that group.
Susan was early to see the importance of this area of coverage, and all now agree it is essential. This unit will consist of Brody Mullins, who has been doing ground-breaking work in this area for years; Ted Mann, who, we are thrilled to announce, will be joining us from New York; Kate O’Keeffe; John McKinnon; and Will Mauldin. John and Will will carry their telecom and trade portfolios into this new group but will be looking at those issues in a new and broader light, and Kate will look at the Chinese connections in this new world. While these folks will be focusing most intently on business-government relations, that subject will hardly limited to them, and we expect Susan and her team will be working regularly across lines with reporters here and in other bureaus on a variety of topics, including financial regulation, energy and economics. This group will be a key hub in our global reporting effort on the Trump administration’s approach to business and vice versa, and we’re delighted that Susan can bring her wealth of experience and the vision she’s already shown for this coverage to bear in an critical area.
We’re also delighted that Jon Hilsenrath will take over leadership of the global economics team, and Becky Bowers will become Jon’s deputy in overseeing this most core of core coverage areas. We are lucky to have their wisdom, steady hands and high energy to ensure that we continue to distinguish ourselves in an area of maximum importance to our readers. Meantime, Eric Morath, in addition to his other duties in the economic group, will pay particular attention to labor issues, exploring how workers affect and are affected by economic changes.
An intense new period of congressional action lies just ahead, and we’re pleased that Byron Tau will join Kristina Peterson and Siobhan Hughes in covering Congress. In addition to her essential and growing social-media duties, Natalie Andrews also will be available to help report on the coming crush of congressional news. That combination will give us the strongest team in town, period. Aaron Zitner will take over oversight of this congressional coverage, while continuing to work with Dante Chinni on political data, and also guiding our expanding efforts in new story-telling with visuals, graphics and data. Our goal is to expand on the ground-breaking campaign work Aaron did in this area to bring new story-telling techniques to other subjects in the news, such as health care or immigration. Tom Burton, whose work on FDA reforms and health controversies such as those wracking the NIH already brings him in close contact with Congress, will also work with Aaron, who in a prior life covered NIH and the health-sciences beat.
Our tireless and peerless health-policy group will move under Naftali Bendavid’s leadership, where it will continue to do what it has done so well in recent years: Keep us at the front edge of the roiling debate over the Affordable Care Act. That debate is about to go into hyper-drive, and to help us keep up Michelle Hackman will join Louise Radnofsky and Stephanie Armour in this important area.
Also in Naftali’s group, Aruna Viswanatha will move in to work with Devlin Barrett covering law enforcement, the Justice Department and the FBI, all terrain on which she already is comfortable and well-experienced. From here, Aruna will be able to continue her great work on financial law enforcement as well. Devlin has distinguished us time and again in the last year with scoops and path-breaking coverage in this area, and he and Aruna will make a powerful team. Meantime, Beth Reinhard will take on Gary Fields’ portfolio and look for stories in criminal justice, prisons and related topics that can take us deep into broader social trends.
We have asked Mark Anderson to take on a new role as Jake Schlesinger’s deputy in overseeing the financial regulatory group and the financial regulatory pro product. This also is an area of new and special emphasis for us, and Mark’s experience in this and similar coverage areas means we are well positioned to continue our growth in this space. Mark will continue some of his current news desk duties, particularly oversight of economic-indicator lockups and breaking Supreme Court news. But given Mark’s new responsibilities, Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall now will report to Naftali for feature and enterprise courts stories.
Finally, we are asking Kate Milani, on top of her newsletter and other duties, to take over management of Think Tank contributors and their offerings, which do so much to enlighten readers and add to our analysis on a range of domestic and foreign stories. Daniel Nasaw, who will continue to handle a host of other online duties for us, including management of the Capital Journal page and Washwire offerings, will be in position to help on Think Tank as well. And, of course, they all will continue to work under the wise tutelage of Tim Hanrahan, who remains the overall maestro of our expanding online operations.
We would like for all of these changes to take effect at the end of next week—that is, on Dec. 16. We want to thank all for their patience as we worked through these changes, and for showing the flexibility needed to ensure that we remain the place readers know they can go for the broadest range of smart Washington news.
Jerry and Paul