Beltway Confidential

Washington Examiner shifts business model from daily newspaper to political site and weekly print magazine

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Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott

Clarity Media Group executives today announced a major shift in the business model of The Washington Examiner, becoming a digital platform and weekly print magazine focused on political news and thought leadership.

Here is the news release describing the changes:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2013 – Clarity Media Group today announced that daily newspaper The Washington Examiner will shift its business model in June, becoming a digital platform and weekly print magazine focused on political thought leadership.

The new product, set to launch June 17, will offer news, analysis, investigative reporting and commentary on issues affecting national legislation and policy across a number of key areas.  The website will continue to engage millions of visitors nationwide with web-only reporting and commentary throughout the day, complemented by WEX-branded digital and social media. The target readership for the print weekly will be 45,000 government, public affairs, advocacy, academia and political professionals in Washington D.C. and state capitals.

“We have accomplished a great deal over the past seven years, as we built The Washington Examiner into a credible and respected brand in a very competitive market.  The strong foundation we established with the website and daily newspaper presents us with the opportunity to shift our focus and meet a pressing need in the political content marketplace,” said Ryan McKibben, president of Clarity Media Group, the Denver-based company that owns The Washington Examiner. “As a result of research and analysis conducted over the past year, we have determined that there is an opportunity to bring our style of investigative journalism and keen analysis and commentary to covering national government and politics. The re-positioned Washington Examiner will meet that demand.”

The company also announced it has named Lou Ann Sabatier, a long-time executive and consultant in the publishing industry, chief executive officer of Clarity’s Washington Group, which in addition to The Washington Examiner includes The Weekly Standard and the website Red Alert Politics.

Under the plan announced today, the daily newspaper will continue to be published through June 14 with the new website launching June 17 and the first issue of the weekly coming out June 20. The change will require significant staffing adjustments in editorial and operations as the Examiner eliminates coverage of local news, sports and entertainment. In addition to 88 day’s notice, affected employees will receive severance and other separation benefits.

“Many of the business and editorial positions needed to publish a local daily newspaper are not required as we move to focus on national and political coverage,” said Mr. McKibben.  “The employees being laid off should be proud of their achievements in creating The Washington Examiner, and Clarity is grateful for the role they have played in giving the Examiner the strong presence it has in Washington.”

Among the employees staying to launch and run the new web site and publication are editor Stephen G. Smith, executive editor Mark Tapscott and managing editor of digital Jennifer Peebles. Several other executives on the business side will remain to lead the effort.  In addition, 20 positions will be created for the new digital platform and weekly publication.

“I am pleased to be part of the new direction that we are charting for The Washington Examiner and look forward to overseeing a stellar group of journalists who will cover the Washington political scene in a unique way,” said Mr. Smith.

Commenting on her appointment as CEO of Clarity’s Washington Group, Ms. Sabatier said, “Clarity is committed to providing the most insightful and knowledgeable political coverage and commentary possible to an influential and sophisticated professional readership, both in the nation’s capital and around the country.  I am excited to be working with a great team to oversee this shift in focus for The Washington Examiner and to be leading Clarity’s efforts in the nation’s capital.”

Mr. McKibben said that until the shift on June 14, The Washington Examiner daily will continue operating as usual to serve its readers and advertisers.

“We are very grateful to all those who have supported and appreciated our efforts over the past seven years,” said Mr. McKibben. “We have enjoyed serving the Washington community and our pride in having done so will always be an important part of our heritage at The Washington Examiner.”       

 Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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