City Paper Mafia Takes Over Yet Another Publication


Michael Schaffer, once editor of the Washington City Paper, is the new editor of The Washingtonian.

By Jack Limpert

In March 2013 I wrote about how the editors of the Washington City Paper have gone on to have a big impact on journalism. It seemed remarkable, considering that the City Paper is a low-budget alternative weekly given away on DC area newsstands. Among the former editors: Jack Shafer, David Carr, Erik Wemple, and Andrew Beaujon. Here’s a graf from that 2013 post:

Shafer, editor from 1985 to 1995, and Carr, editor from 1995 to 2000, made the City Paper something special: smart, fearless, and controversial. Shafer went on to Slate and now is the media watcher at Reuters; Carr almost needs no introduction—he’s at the New York Times and is the nation’s number one media analyzer and critic. Then came Wemple, now covering the media for the Washington Post, and Beaujon, now the top media reporter at Poynter. Other ex-editors at the City Paper include Michael Schaffer, now at the New Republic running its digital side, and Mike DeBonis, who covers local government and politics for the Washington Post. Influential City Paper alums also include the aforementioned Katharine Boo and Ta-Nehisi Coates, a rising star at the Atlantic. And then there’s Jake Tapper, who made his first big splash with a City Paper piece about a date with Monica Lewinsky—he has just moved from ABC to CNN and is probably the highest paid of anyone mentioned here.

Than in January 2014 I posted this:

Jack Shafer, David Carr, Erik Wemple, and Andrew Beaujon all were editors at DC’s alternative weekly, the Washington City Paper, and they’ve gone on to write about the media for Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Poynter. Powerful guys, very talented, and in a post last year I called them the City Paper Mafia.

On New Year’s Eve, Wemple put up a piece about media transparency that was long (2,700 words), media heavy (CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Politico, AP, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Gawker, Huffington Post), and interesting (60 Minutes, Benghazi, Martin Bashir, Jeff Zucker, Mike Allen, Bob Lewis). But while reading it, a light bulb kept flashing “City Paper Mafia, City Paper Mafia.”

In Wemple’s piece, Carr was mentioned 4 times, Beaujon 8 times, and Wemple (“Marty Baron welcomed the Erik Wemple blog into his office”) mentioned himself 11 times. Shafer? Zero mentions.

Do mafia guys keep score?
And now, announced today, yet another move in the City Paper Mafia’s attempt at media-wide domination:

Michael Schaffer, the New Republic’s editorial director, will be the fourth editor of The Washingtonian, publisher Cathy Merrill Williams announced Monday.

Schaffer, 40, takes over for Garrett M. Graff, who became editor in 2009. Previously, Jack Limpert led the 49-year-old magazine for more than four decades.

Schaffer joined the New Republic in 2012, shortly after it was bought by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and played a large role in its redesign and increased online operations. He was editor of Washington City Paper from 2010 to 2012, and has also been a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and US News and World Report. He is the author of One Nation Under Dog, a 2009 book about Americans’ relationships with their canine pets.

“His reporting career has reached from the war zones of Pakistan and Iraq to the American Pet Product Expo in Florida,” Williams says in a newsroom memo. “I have no doubt his varied background and interests will serve us and our readers well.”
Good luck, Mike Schaffer, Washington is a great city, and a monthly magazine is still a wonderful opportunity to do great journalism.

As for the Washington City Paper, its editor is some guy named Mike Madden, who likely will be in the news by this time next year.





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