John Harris, the co-founder of Politico, is returning to media outlet’s newsroom leadership as global editor in chief.
He’ll succeed Matt Kaminski, who is stepping down as U.S. editor in chief on Aug. 31. Kaminski will serve as editor at large, and will contribute regular pieces on U.S. and global affairs.
Harris has served as editorial chair, advising the company on longterm strategy. He co-founded Politico in 2007, and the publication has had a huge impact on the way that politics and policy is covered in the digital age. Politico was sold to Axel Springer for more than $1 billion in 2021.
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Goli Sheikholeslami. the CEO of Politico, wrote in a memo to staffers, “To be clear: John is not returning to a job he once had. To the contrary, he is stepping into a new role as the single top editorial executive in the company, with newsrooms in the United States and Europe reporting to him.”
In 2014, Kaminski left The Wall Street Journal to launch Politico Europe as its first editor in chief, and he has later editor in chief of Politico’s U.S. operations after Harris stepped down from daily leadership in 2019.
Sheikholeslami wrote that Harris’s return to executive duties “marks a significant moment for our company.”
“His intimate knowledge as a founder gives him a unique perspective to see and seize opportunities others may not. With John at the helm, we are primed to embark on Politico’s most ambitious journey yet, as we set sail to traverse greater distances at unprecedented speeds.”
This is the latest change in leadership at Politico. Dafna Linzer departed from her role as executive editor after a year in the job. She reported to Kaminski, and her exit came after they reportedly had disagreements over the editorial direction of the news outlet.
The full memo is below:
I am writing today to share important news about two POLITICO founders: John Harris, who permanently transformed the Washington media landscape as the co-founder of POLITICO, and Matt Kaminski, whose impact has been equally profound as the first editor in chief of POLITICO Europe and as the current editor in chief of our U.S. operation.
Both Matt and John have been instrumental in shaping the strategy for our next chapter and have proven to be invaluable allies to me in my role as CEO. In our recent conversations, Matt was candid in expressing his readiness for a new professional challenge after a remarkable nine-year tenure leading two newsrooms — a period that saw POLITICO reach new heights.
It simultaneously became evident — to our delight — that John, who, as Editorial Chair, has been advising us on our long-term strategy, is invigorated by the possibilities offered by new ownership and the potential of this team and is eager to roll up his sleeves and do the work required for us to win.
Together, John, Matt and I decided that Matt will move on from his current role as U.S. editor in chief on August 31st. At the same time, John will take on a new role as POLITICO’s first global editor in chief.
Matt is one of the great builders in journalism today. It’s a reputation he has established in both of his leadership roles at POLITICO. In 2014, Matt left the Wall Street Journal and moved to Brussels, where he launched one of the most successful media start-ups of the past decade. The other half of Matt’s tenure has been in Washington. In his five years here, POLITICO greatly expanded the breadth and impact of its journalism. Matt pushed us to grow out the coverage of technology and energy, national security, the states and the judiciary, among other areas, and launch numerous successful products, not to mention a new Playbook team. He steered the newsroom through several election cycles and a pandemic. His work was essential in facilitating a successful change of ownership in no small part by exhorting us to embrace a new conception of the publication—one with agenda-setting capacity around the world and on the most complex policy matters.
John’s return to executive duties marks a significant moment for our company, and you’ll hear more from him later today. But first I want you to hear from me. Throughout my time at POLITICO, I’ve been deeply impressed not only by John’s journalistic prowess and political expertise but also by his visionary ideas about the future of media and POLITICO’s role in Washington and on the global stage. His intimate knowledge as a founder gives him a unique perspective to see and seize opportunities others may not. With John at the helm, we are primed to embark on POLITICO’s most ambitious journey yet, as we set sail to traverse greater distances at unprecedented speeds.
To be clear: John is not returning to a job he once had. To the contrary, he is stepping into a new role as the single top editorial executive in the company, with newsrooms in the United States and Europe reporting to him. He will report to me, with a line also to Mathias (like all top news executives within Axel Springer.) He does not intend to fill the U.S. editor in chief job. With another presidential election cycle underway, and with an indispensable partner in Jamil Anderlini in Europe—John believes it is pivotal that he be immersed simultaneously in the Washington and global stories.
John has made a long-term commitment to help me, and all of us, fulfill our commitments in the strategic plan — and to in turn make POLITICO a genuine force in the global media arena. He told me he was feeling more energized about POLITICO and its future than he was even at the launch in 2007. In my time with John, it is clear that he really means it when he says, “POLITICO is a start-up again.” I know he means it when he pledges that people here should be having more impact—and more fun—than they could anywhere else in media. He’s exactly right. That’s why I am here, and why I hope you are too.
We are at one of those pivot points in the life of the publication—a moment filled with deep gratitude for the leadership that got us here, and with excitement about the vast possibilities for the future.
After Matt finishes up his managerial responsibilities as editor in chief at the end of the summer, he plans to turn to writing and working on projects that support POLITICO’s ambitions as editor at large. He will produce his own journalism, contributing regular pieces on American and global affairs, and representing the publication where needed. He is eager to re-engage that side of his professional life that first established him as one of his generation’s top journalists and delivering for our readers his unique perspective and wit. I have also asked him to continue to serve as a strategic adviser to me on our global ambitions.
We have lots of work to do, and you’ll be hearing lots from all three of us — Matt, John, and I —frequently, over the balance of the summer. For now, our most important work is to express our profound gratitude to Matt for his industry-leading achievements at POLITICO.
With appreciation and excitement for all to come,
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