This town is filled with alumni of Congressional Quarterly. I’m one; my boss is one; my boss’ boss is one; my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss is another.
I feel safe in saying that we were all proud of the time we spent there. CQ cared about quality journalism above all else, and found a way to make a profit out of reliable, objective, detailed reporting about Congress and Washington. I spent more than four years there in the 1990s, helping to expand its online operation from a single proprietary database service to a wide variety of Web-based tools.
CQ had been owned since its inception by the Times Publishing Co., which publishes one of the nation’s best newspapers in the St. Petersburg Times — and Times Publishing, in turn, is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute. But the Times, like most newspapers, is having its challenges these days, and CQ always was this odd little stepchild up in D.C. — so it went up for sale.
This week, as expected, CQ was purchased by The Roll Call Group, which in turn is owned by the company that publishes The Economist. That’s about as good of an outcome as could have been expected for CQ, given the high quality of The Economist.
But many of us will be watching developments. It would be a shame to see CQ cheapened and turned into some sort of marketing-flavor-of-the-week outfit, and it would be a disservice to the generations of journalists who did some of their best work there. It also might collapse a business that is in an increasingly competitive market. We’ll see what happens next.