Four months ago the political world stood in awe of National Review's D.C. reporting team. National Review's work on the government beat had always been good, sure, but Washington editor Robert Costa blew away competitors with 10, 20 years of experience. Coverage of NR and Costa after the government shutdown was downright worshipful. Reporters like Jonathan Strong, Betsy Woodruff, Katrina Trinko, and Andrew Stiles turned the site into a must-read.
The headhunters came a-huntin'. In November the Washington Post poached Costa and turned him into a political correspondent. He could fill a role, coverage of the conservative movement and the GOP, that the paper had too often struggled with.* This month, National Review has lost two more reporters, albeit to other journals of the right. Strong, who had been considered as a Costa replacement, will instead run the D.C. team at Breitbart. ("Very excited about it," he says.)
Trinko has joined the Heritage Foundation as managing editor of the Foundry, a group blog that's expanding into a mini-news site with 11 staffers. The Foundry's also hiring an investigative reporter. The Foundry's new design is being hammered out by Atlantic Media Strategies, and expected to launch in April.
"We have something unique at Heritage," said the Foundry's editor-in-chief, Rob Bluey. "We have a bench of 100 really good research scholars who are very knowledgeable on policy issues. It brings credibility to policy debates and arguments when you are able to back it up with data."
I asked Bluey whether the Foundry was being built up into a sort of happy, chart-y Wonkblog of the right. Ezra Klein's project at the Washington Post grew from a personal blog to a multifaceted news site with four full-time reporters, and a tech spinoff (the Switch) that employed three more.
"You do have the news component of Wonkblog where they break stories, and they have deep policy analysis," said Bluey. "I'd say we don't want the Foundry to be viewed as a blog anymore. With the changes we're making, with a new look we're working on, we should be viewed as a news site."