Scripps acquires political startup; reaches wire service deal with MCT

Tue, November 12, 2013 by Carolyn Micheli

Twitter post: @EWScrippsCo announces changes to DC bureau, acquires political reporting brand @DecodeDC and transitions wire service to @mctdirect

CINCINNATI – The E.W. Scripps Company today announced a restructuring and expansion of its historic political and national reporting bureau in Washington, D.C.

At a time when national political affairs are having an immediate and profound impact on communities across the country, Scripps has decided to enhance its investigative reporting in the nation’s capital and expand the reach and resources of political reporting brand DecodeDC, which it has acquired.

As part of the plan, the Scripps D.C. bureau, which for many years served newspapers exclusively, will be reconfigured to be a leading investigative storyteller on all the Scripps-owned media platforms – television, digital and print.

The company also has reached an agreement with McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT) to take on the clients and a select group of contributors to Scripps Howard News Service. Scripps will no longer offer syndication services and will close its wire service at the end of the year. The deal allows MCT to begin offering Scripps newspaper content to its existing clients and to acquire Scripps Howard clients immediately, with the transition to be completed in January.

The MCT service will expand to include the most popular Scripps Howard lifestyle features and investigative stories. It now distributes content from 600 titles to 1,200 media and digital clients worldwide.

“Our strategy to expand as a content-focused organization, with a full commitment to investigative reporting and national politics, led us to this decision to cease being a packager and distributor of content from other news organizations,” said Ellen Weiss, chief of the Scripps Washington bureau. “Our best opportunity for the future is to focus on enterprise journalism and turn over the distribution to a scale platform like MCT.”

Former National Public Radio reporter Andrea Seabrook founded DecodeDC as a podcast and a website. Its reporting is aimed at smart, curious people of all ages who want political coverage that is rooted in D.C. but is not of D.C.

Seabrook launched the DecodeDC podcasts with $100,000 she raised on Kickstarter. It has since become a strong political reporting brand, crafted with Seabrook’s distinctive story-telling skills.

“DecodeDC focuses on Washington’s dysfunction, corruption, and negligence of the issues that affect American citizens every day,” said Weiss. “The purpose is to educate and engage people in the search for solutions.”

Seabrook will join the bureau staff, where she will continue to produce the podcast and join an expanded team of multimedia journalists. They will produce DecodeDC content that will be featured as part of the local Scripps digital brands in 26 television and newspaper markets. The team also will produce content for print and broadcast television.

Related to these changes at the Washington bureau, the organization is creating 10 new positions to help build the bureau’s investigative work and bring in skills and expertise to reach audiences across all platforms – digital, broadcast and print. The company is eliminating seven bureau staff positions associated with producing the wire.

The Scripps Washington bureau opened in 1917. From the beginning, its mission was to provide Americans with enterprise journalism about Washington. Among its famous alumni is roving World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle.

In February, Scripps hired Weiss, a veteran journalist who formerly ran the entire news organization for National Public Radio, to build its national investigative work and to expand its storytelling capabilities for digital media audiences.

The bureau’s increased emphasis on digital content mirrors a companywide priority to win the largest audiences in its digital marketplaces.

“For nearly 100 years, the Washington bureau has been at the heart of the Scripps commitment to high-quality enterprise journalism,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO. “The bureau plays a central role in closing the gap of understanding between Washington D.C. and Main Street, USA. We’re eager to expand on our legacy of practical reporting and to step up our commitment to the next generation of news consumers.”

About Scripps
The E.W. Scripps Company ( serves audiences and businesses through a growing portfolio of television, print and digital media brands. It owns 19 local television stations and daily newspapers in 13 markets across the United States and an expanding collection of local and national digital journalism and information businesses. Scripps also produces television programming, runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and serves as the long-time steward of one of the nation’s most successful educational programs, Scripps Spelling Bee. Founded in 1879, Scripps is focused on the stories of tomorrow.

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