In early 2014, I was offered what I will, for the rest of my life, consider an amazing opportunity: the chance to edit National Journal magazine. The job was perfect and daunting all at once. NJ had legendary stature but also faced a massive challenge: Like all print publications, it needed to figure out how to justify its existence in the Internet age.
The past two years have been fun and rewarding not in spite of this challenge, but because of it. While the magazine is ending with this issue, the process of trying to reshape the publication—by putting a new twist on its traditions and emphasizing long-form storytelling and elegant design—yielded many individual pieces and overall issues that my colleagues and I are extremely proud of.
We were quite lucky in at least one sense: As should be clear from reading the recollections of the NJ stalwarts who wrote for this issue, the journalistic tradition that NJ had built up over time—the one that we inherited—was extraordinary. It was a tradition that had, for decades, insisted that the details of policy and politics mattered enormously. That the decision-makers behind the scenes could not be ignored. That there was no shortage of investigative digging to be done in Washington. That reporting and argument could strengthen each other. That a magazine could earn the respect of both conservatives and liberals.