Bruce Gottlieb, president of National Journal and general counsel of Atlantic Media, will be leaving the company soon to “return to his roots in policy and government affairs,” the company said today. It didn’t indicate just what position in policy and government affairs Gottlieb would be taking.
The announcement marks yet another executive departure from Atlantic Media, which counts among its offerings National Journal, the Atlantic magazine, Government Executive and Quartz. Last year, company president Justin Smith left to become CEO of Bloomberg’s media group, and in recent weeks the outlet has announced the departures of Atlantic President Scott Havens and Atlantic events czar Elizabeth Baker Keffer.
National Journal has been a re-booting machine in recent years. In 2010, the magazine announced a change of strategy in which it took aim at Politico and other Capitol Hill publications. When that experiment petered out, it hired a new editor, former Politico Pro editor Tim Grieve, and recently readjusted its orientation in the direction of “high-quality, long-form journalism” in the tradition of the New Republic and its ilk.
Could this herky-jerky approach to strategy have anything to do with Gottlieb’s move? “No — not at all,” says Emily Lenzner, a spokeswoman for Atlantic Media. “Bruce is leaving of his own volition to take a new position that takes him back to his roots in policy and government affairs. It’s completely unrelated to anything having to do with where National Journal has come and where it’s going. Bruce has led a very successful turnaround at the National Journal and he’s leaving it in really good standing.” Gottlieb had served as president of National Journal since September 2012.
To fill the hole, Atlantic is looking internally. Current National Journal Chief Revenue Office Poppy MacDonald and current Editor in Chief Tim Grieve will become co-presidents of the National Journal. The move will involve an interesting edit-biz straddling maneuver for Grieve, who according to a company release will “be responsible for editorial strategy and new editorial products for the brand.” Grieve came to National Journal last spring to oversee its digital side, got promoted to head of all National Journal editorial operations and now this.
The organization paired Gottlieb’s departure announcement with other promotion announcements: Tim Hartman, who currently serves as president of Government Executive Media Group, will now also serve as the CEO of Atlantic Media’s Washington divisions (National Journal Group and Government Executive). And Aretae Wyler will take on Gottlieb’s duties as Atlantic Media general counsel while continuing to serve as chief of staff to company Chairman and CEO David Bradley.
So the question raised by all these promotions and job titles is: Were all these great talents underutilized before, or will they be overworked now? To that question, Lenzner chuckled and answered, “They have always worked hard and will continue to work hard.”