CQ Weekly may have to run a correction on its name. Have a look at the wording on its frequency in the Jan. 14 issue:
CQ Weekly (Congressional Quarterly) (ISSN 1521-5997) is published 35 times a year on a weekly basis except for the third Monday in January, February, March, April and October; the second Monday in May; the first and fifth Mondays in June; the second, third and fourth Mondays in August; the fourth Monday in September; the first and fourth Mondays in November; and the third, fourth and fifth Mondays in December.
So CQ Weekly doesn’t like Mondays. Last year, CQ Weekly published 43 issues, just barely enough to justify its name; in previous years, frequency was up around 50. Beth Bronder, senior vice president and publisher of CQ Roll Call, says that the move merely responds “to what subscribers are using, what they want more of, what trends we’re seeing.” With digital advertising dollars growing faster than print advertising dollars, the frequency drop makes nothing but sense, says Bronder. “I can tell you my people aren’t out chasing print advertisers and if they are, they’re probably not long for the farm,” she notes.
With no “weekly” in its name, the National Journal can scale back frequency without opening the door to bloggerly snark. But it’s doing the same thing: According to spokeswoman Emily Lenzner, the magazine’s frequency will dip to 32 this year from around 42 in recent years. The lower-frequency National Journal includes 12 thick special issues, including the current one on gay Washington. The drop in frequency will be announced to readers in the Jan. 31 issue. (As for the newest kid on the block, the print version of the recently launched Politico Magazine comes out on a bimonthly basis.)
Asked the reason for the change, Lenzner replied via e-mail, “it’s no secret that the DC print advertising market has been shrinking – and revenues are growing more on the digital and events side. By adjusting our publishing schedule a bit, we’re able to shift our strategy, allowing us to redirect our focus to providing more services and utilities to our members, including a more robust and timely but less frequent magazine, and of course, increasing our digital content and events.” National Journal Group, says Lenzner, “grew direct profits by 32% in 2013 vs the year prior.”
Both CQ Weekly and National Journal magazine are subscription products, and fit into a maze of premium information products offered by their parent companies. CQ Roll Call is famous for its large news and legislative databases, and National Journal churns out a number of customized info-services for its premium “members.” So by no means does either organization rise and fall on print revenue from their magazines.
That said, a partial explanation for the frequency drop relates to the woefully unproductive Congress, whose gridlock gives issue advocacy groups little to advertise about. Lawmakers this year are scheduled to work 113 days. Given such Capitol Hill leisure, why would a Capitol Hill publication keep publishing close to every week of the year? “We did them because we always did them,” says Bronder about the old days.