Politics Publication National Journal Switches To Membership Model

National Journal, the politics and public policy publisher headquartered in Washington, D.C. and owned by the Atlantic Media Group, is looking to offer “new services” like original research and pre-written memos to its readers as part of its switch to a membership-based model. Readers who had previously subscribed to just one National Journal publication will now have access to all of them.

Up to now, National Journal has consisted of four news sources that can be subscribed to separately: The website NationalJournal.com; the weekly National Journal magazine; National Journal Daily, which provides daily Capitol Hill news; and National Journal Hotline, which provides campaign coverage. Membership prices have not yet been determined. Under the new model, members will have access to all the publications, as well as “an additional suite of information, research, resources, and services.”

David Bradley, chairman of the National Journal Group and owner of Atlantic Media, wrote a letter to all of the organization’s readers on August 5, which Politico posted in full. In the letter, Bradley laid out what those additional services for members will be. Many are calculated to save public officials and others time.

I. Concision Journalism: National Journal’s New “Time-Famine” Lab
The universal complaint among Washington professionals is “time famine,” far too little time to do what is required, including working through the large volume of daily reading. National Journal Group is creating a dedicated staff of editors, reporters and graphic designers to develop briefing products that, in net, save time for our members each day.

II. Supporting Your Own Talks: National Journal Presentation Center
The National Journal Group is mindful of the number of briefings its readers are required to make to their own consituencies–headquarters, executives, board members, members and clients. Accordingly, the firm is creating an updated library of slide presentations available to members for their own presentations. Sample topics: 2012 Election Prospects; Long-Term Budget Battle in Washington; Future of Energy & Environmental Legislation.

III. Pass-Through Documents: Weekly Washington Memo
Intending to help members with their written briefings, the National Journal Group is drafting a weekly Washington memo expressly intended as the basis for the member’s own writing to headquarters and other constituencies. The weekly memo highlights–in lay terms–what mattered most each week in Washington.

IV. Annual Strategy Study: Best Practices in Reaching the Congress
Over the years, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and the Corporate Executive Board have pioneered the discipline of best demonstrated practice research. Bringing that rigor to the work of Washington, a National Journal team of researchers (wholly separate from our editorial staff) studies the best practices in reaching and working with Congress. The resulting report, focused on successful legislative campaigns, is delivered to all members.

V. Member Meetings
Annual Member Summit: The National Journal Group hosts an annual member summit in January. Editorial staff briefs members on the political and legislative year ahead. Research staff summarize, for members, newsworthy best practices in working with Congress.
Expert Briefings: Focused on more narrow topics, National Journal Group hosts political and public policy experts in our Watergate offices. Sixty minutes of content and discussion. In and out within an hour.

Membership pricing has not yet been determined. Taylor West, the company’s communications director, told me, “We’re currently discussing membership pricing with our customers and prospective new members.” In his memo, Bradley suggested that pricing will be highly negotiable:

Our teaching internally is that service to members comes before, comes ahead of, commercial interest.

Should we suggest a membership contribution higher than you find prudent or appropriate, we will lower our suggestion accordingly.

Should you suffer a fiscal year when budgeting for us proves difficult, that is precisely the year we most want to serve. We are pleased to continue organizations as members without any charge for as long as their budgets require.

Should we disappoint in any year, including now, we are happy to refund that year’s membership contribution (subscription price) fully.