Friday, January 2, 2009

Great Moments in Twittizen Journalism: Roll Call Dies! Or not!

Roll Call newspaper, my former employer, has been covering Capitol Hill since 1955. Every day it breaks stories that the big papers follow -- often without acknowledging their original source. And, as far as I'm aware, it's a still a huge moneymaker, having practically created the market for corporations and trade associations to advertise their positions on legislative issues directly to a select audience of Members [which I still capitalize out of loyalty to Roll Call style] of Congress and their staffers. (And perhaps because it's one of the few newspapers to charge for web access?) For over a decade, Roll Call has been owned by the Economist Group, and the cubicles of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, not to mention Bloomberg and CNN, are stuffed full of Roll Call alums.

All of which brings us to Jan. 1, 2009. Apparently MSNBC cartoonist Daryl Cagle heard a rumor that Roll Call was about to go under. Based on what, I have no idea. Now of course he couldn't report or cartoon about this on boring old MSNBC, which, adhering to its stodgy old-media ways, would probably require that he actually, you know, check out the rumor before broadcasting it to the world. But that's what Twitter is for! So he rung in the New Year by posting this at 9:04 am yesterday:

Never mind that, you know, it wasn't true, as Roll Call's publisher felt compelled to point out:

Contrary to rumors posted on Wonkette and on Twitter, Roll Call is thriving and not at all at risk of shutting down. It’s unfortunate what is happening to consumer newspapers and other media outlets around the country but fortunately for our amazing employees, readers and advertisers, the state of Roll Call’s condition is healthier than ever.

With our singular focus on Congress since 1955, our revenues and business opportunities continue to grow. In August, we completed a $43 million acquisition of the highly respected grassroots technology company, Capitol Advantage, on the heels of a previous acquisition of the legislative tracking company, Gallery Watch. We are hiring across the board in editorial and business positions. Advertising and subscription revenues are strong. Our parent company, The Economist Group, is in full support of our business strategy and looks to us for significant expansion. Suffice to say, our prospects for 2009 and beyond are extremely positive.

So to my Roll Call friends who remain, congrats on surviving the great New Year's Twitter scare of 2009, and see you all at the 60th anniversary party in 2015.

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