Another blow to LobbyTools as managing editor James Call exits

in Uncategorized by

A week after it was reported how the Florida Current was abandoning its efforts to offer free-to-the-public news coverage, the managing editor of the successor to the online news site has exited the company.

James Call, who only recently was elevated to replace the fired Bill Prescott, parted ways with John and Sarah Iarussi, the husband-and-wife owners of LobbyTools, the publisher of the Current and its subscription-only successor, “Legislative IQ.”

Unlike some of the other former employees of the Florida Current, Call is not going quietly.

“I guess my Catholic upbringing and Ohio State master’s didn’t mesh well with the corporate culture,” said Call when asked to explain why he thinks he was let go.

“I was told I was going to be kept on but I didn’t realize they meant only to the end of the week,” Call said. “I guess they needed someone to take out the trash and turn off the lights.”

Before Call was let go, veteran reporters Bill Cotterell, Gray Rohrer, Bruce Ritchie, and Arek Sarkissian were dismissed or did not have their contracts renewed. Reportedly, they have been replaced with a handful of recent college graduates who are staffing the desks at “Legislative IQ,” 

Sarah Iarussi said at the time that she did not view these personnel moves as downsizing, “rather we made the staffing changes necessary to further develop our subscription services – which are LobbyTools and the newly developed Legislative IQ.” 

Reportedly, a handful of recent college graduates are staffing the desks at “Legislative IQ,” which was described in a recent email to LobbyTools subscribers as “market-leading legislative data with policy and politics news.”

Despite the exodus of decades of journalism experience, the publishers of LobbyTools are promising that its “coverage will be even deeper” with Legislative IQ.

Call isn’t so sure about that.

“Despite my experience and education I don’t quite understand what they are trying to do,” said Call.  “I mean, how do you improve a written product by doing away with writers?”

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.