July 12, 2017: Joe Pompeo

Guest: Joe Pompeo

Story: The Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron

Publication: Politico Magazine

Date: June 19, 2017


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In a Wired piece called The Blissfully Slow World of Internet Newsletters, Clive Thompson wrote that newsletters are “engineered not for the virality but originality: It’s a chance to listen in while someone thinks out loud.” I spoke to Joe Pompeo this week, and I’m not 100% sure that “thinking out loud” is the best way to describe his now-former project and newsletter, Morning Media. But if anything, Pompeo’s 7AM-email was popular and original. Now, he’s joining Vanity Fair’s The Hive.

The alternative title for this newsletter was “EXCLUSIVE: First conversation with Joe Pompeo after he leaves Politico,” but since I have a fraction (I’m generous in my evaluation) of Pompeo’s Morning Media subscribers, I went with the conservative option.

Pompeo talks to a lot of people every day and reads a lot of news before producing his newsletter in the evening. That’s why I was skeptical of Thompson’s characterization of the best newsletters as “places online where one can talk — and listen — in private.” The world of newsletters is blissfully fast, and I think Morning Media was the perfect example.


You can listen to the interview or read some of the best moments below along with some other great long reads.

Here’s an excerpt of Pompeo’s story that was published in Politico Magazine:

Here’s one more individual who has worked with Baquet and Baron at different times: “Dean is more of a journalistic visionary, a journalistic renaissance man. Dean loves writing, he loves sweep, all the facets of the newspaper. Marty, on the other hand, is not a journalistic visionary. He’s more meat and potatoes. I don’t think he commissions the kinds of deep projects that Dean does. Marty’s strength is the laser focus and the ‘more, better, faster’ ethos. Marty is all about urgency, productivity. He’s a much harder-driving guy.”

To read the full story, click here

How he produced Morning Media:

Today’s my last edition of the newsletter and usually […] Definitely something in some way, six days of the week, I’m working on, because it publishes Monday through Friday which means that on Sundays I have to produce one for Monday morning […] so there’s only really one full day where I’m not working, I haven’t been working for the past thirteen months. Most of the text of the newsletter comes together, like starting late in the afternoon.

There’s two things…one thing, with a newsletter, you are responding to what’s happening in the news cycle. A lot of times, news that’s gonna be fresh for the next day, is starting to unfold later in the day before so that’s kind of like when you kind of have to start to get a picture […] and also as you’re working on your own, my own scoops or tidbits […] I’ll maybe have spent a little time during the day trying to nail some stuff down […]

My routine has been: wake up, the newsletter has been sent out by the production team very early, around 6 AM. I drop my kid off at daycare and I spend my morning reading news and catching up on things. My late mornings, early afternoon are kinda slow. It picks up […] by the time I turn off at around 5:30 PM to spend time with my kid, eat dinner. And then generally, at night, starting at around 7–7:30 or 8:00 PM until around 11 or so, I’m finishing this thing.

Some days, the whole thing gets done between 7 and 10 PM. Some days, especially if there’s a lot of reporting going on, I’m working non-stop all day then I break for dinner and then I do more.

On “thinking like a New York Times editor”:

What the source that said that meant to convey is that the New York Times is seen […] as the first page of history, the news source that is going to give you the most eloquent and comprehensive […] explanation of the news. People who I spoke with for this piece, I think there’s definitely people at the Washington Post probably disliked this aspect of my story. […] They’re both hard charging, some people feel like maybe the Post is even more hard charging, but generally I think there’s a perception that the Times is still THE paper of record.

Marty Baron’s business-like approach:

People who worked with him at the LA Times, the Boston Globe,that’s a trait [laser focus, meat and potato editor] that everyone I spoke with who’ve worked with him at various points of his career I think would testify to… even if you look at some of the earlier, earlier part of his life as a journalist when he was a student reporter […] in his high school newspaper he was butting heads with the administration […]

He has a business degree, an MBA, so as a manager and someone who is not only overseeing a news report, but also having to make decisions about staffing and cuts, the laser focus extends to his ability to prioritize in a newsroom and to do more with lesslike something he had to do at the Boston Globe.

The heirs of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron:

Well I think, the New York Times […] they do have a tradition of grooming from within and at the Times there are certainly two people internally who are seen as the likely two heirs and those are Joe Khan, who’s the managing editor of the newsroom. He’s the number two under Dean Baquet. The other guy people talk about is James Bennet. He was a longtime journalist for the Times who then left and became the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Magazine for 10 years, but really was a Timesman in his veins and was recruited back well over a year ago […], in the past two years, to run the op-ed page.

And a lot of people saw that as […] getting him back in the Times as someone who might… as a future leader of the place. Right now, at the Times those are definitely the two names on the radar, people talk about […]. At the Post, it’s much more uncertain. Before Marty Baron, there was… it was kinda a bit more of a wild card.The editor before him was Marcus Brauchli who had come from the Wall Street Journal […] There’s not like a clear heir at the Washington Post […].

The future editors of the NYT and WaPo:

These are like maybe, two of the last guys of their generation at these newspapers who will have come from a really a truly pure, pure print background so I think that some other editors are emerging. And we saw this with someone like for example Janine Gibson who had run The Guardian US operations during the Snowden coverage.

She was talked about at some point as potential managing editor at the New York Times. That’s someone who’s kinda like a wild card and I think there may be more people like that, that are emerging now from digital media that could, in the next couple of years, kinda supplant some of the more traditional old guard newspaper [people].

Our picks:

-This piece by Janet Reitman on a Muslim recruit subjected to horrible hazing and intimidation that eventually led to his suicide was very tough to read.

-Through drawings and words, Candice Rose Rardon explains the story of her search for home.

-Climate change is bound to bring devastation to our planet, but it might happen sooner than we think.

-From the archives: Joan Didion brilliantly explains the importance of water conservation.

-Oscar Isaac spoke to the New York Times about how he is dealing with his new roles as dad and on stage as Hamlet while grieving the loss of his mother.

-Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in America, so why is it always dealing with financial crisis?

-After 36 years as editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Lucinda Chambers was “let go.” Now, she’s sharing everything she learned about the fashion industry in a shocking interview.