Lois Romano, events editor for Politico, will rejoin the staff of The Washington Post and pursue a similar line of work as the editor of Washington Post Live, the newspaper’s conference and events platform. “Lois brings to this mission an understanding of Washington Post values and ethics, journalistic judgment, a keen grasp of digital strategies and social media, and a vast network of national contacts,” reads a memo written by Executive Editor Martin Baron.
Romano takes over for Washington Post Live founding editor Mary Jordan, a veteran Post reporter who will now move to the National section and work as a political correspondent. “All of us feel deep gratitude to Mary for the energy, journalistic chops, and wisdom she brought to this important and difficult job,” noted Baron in his memo.
The Post and Politico are at different stages in developing the events business. Washington Post Live launched in 2010 after an ill-fated proposal to host off-the-record “salons” featuring big Beltway players. According to Washington Post Live’s Web site, it hosted 12 events last year, including “America Answers: Fix My Commute,” “Health Beyond Health Care” and “A Conversation With Jimmy Carter.” Founded in 2007, Politico has moved more aggressively on conferences, tallying more than 60 events last year alone. With its “Playbook” breakfasts, “Women Rule” and “What Works” series, Politico has managed to snare a wide range of sponsors including Google, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America and many others.
Asked whether her charge is to turn The Post into more of an events mill, Romano replied, “We all aspire to continue to build a first-in-class events operation that’s an extension of The Post’s first-in-class journalism. I’m eager to work closely with reporters and editors.” She’ll find some familiar faces: Romano worked on 15th Street NW for two decades before bolting for Newsweek in 2011; she covered seven presidential campaigns and, notably, launched the Style section mainstay “The Reliable Source,” among other endeavors.
Steve Hills, Washington Post president and general manager, says that events are “an area we have targeted for growth — and WPL has room to grow. [Owner] Jeff [Bezos] believes, as we do, that events — when done well — can enhance our brand and, as we have shown, create journalistic value as well.” There is no “optimal number” of events targeted by the paper, Hills notes in an e-mail. “That is something we will discover over time,” he indicates.
Romano’s departure means more work for Politico’s talent recruiter. As recently reported in this space, Politico lost about 25 percent of its roughly 170-person-strong newsroom last year, a trend that has showed few signs of abating, as reported by the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone. Did the turmoil at Politico figure into Romano’s decision? “Not at all,” she replies via e-mail. “This is a great opportunity and an exciting challenge. Beyond that, I’m delighted to be returning to The Post. I had a terrific experience at Politico and I’m grateful to John Harris and all my friends and colleagues there for the opportunity.”