The Tampa Bay Rays of political journalism is losing Christine Sexton to POLITCO

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Like most fans of the Tampa Bay Rays, I look at the standings in the American League East and I marvel at the fact that the team, with its roster of hidden gems and value propositions, is able to compete with the behemoths in that division.

On many days, as publisher of SaintPetersBlog, Florida Politics, Context Florida, and INFLUENCE Magazine, I feel like Stu Sternberg, the owner of the Rays. That’s because I must compete with behemoths of journalism, with their resources and tradition. Instead of the playing against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, I compete against the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, and POLITICO.

Like any scrappy team, we win some and we lose some. For every Mitch Perry that we recruit, we lose out on signing other big name free agents of Florida political journalism, like Marc Caputo or Jeremy Wallace.

Yet here we are, always competing. Just look at our team’s work yesterday and I know we are winning. We had extensive coverage of Rick Scott’s budget signing, including the first report of how much would be vetoed.

Meanwhile, A.G. Gankarski is covering the hell out of Jacksonville’s City Hall, scooping again and again the local newspaper. Janelle Irwin’s coverage of the municipal elections in St. Pete is second to none. And all Perry did yesterday was break news not once but twice on who is running in Congressional District 13.

All the while, I’m blogging and Tweeting non-stop, assembling Sunburn, and putting the finishing touches on the next issue of INFLUENCE.

We’re not just competing, we’re winning.

In fact, we’re putting such a good product on the field that we’re losing one of our best players to another team.

Christine Sexton, our extraordinarily talented reporter who has dominated the intersection of health care policy and politics, is being scooped up by POLITICO and its new Tallahassee bureau.

While I am genuinely distraught (I am still getting acclimated to the hot-stove nature of the journalism industry) to see Sexton move on, I could not be happier for Christine and her husband, Gary Fineout.

I’d like to think — and Christine insists this is true — we have provided an attractive platform for her this past year. A platform prominent enough for POLITICO to take note of Sexton’s excellent work.

Christine probably scored the scoop of the year in Florida politics, breaking the news (along with Carol Gentry) where Eliot Fishman, the director of the Medicaid division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told policymakers that there was “no way” that Florida’s “Low Income Pool” program will continue when it expires in June. Fishman’s comments set off the firestorm that would eventually engulf the 2015 Session.

It would be the first of many agenda-setting stories Sexton would write for us.

Like Kevin Cate suggested, Christine Sexton may have been my best hire.

Before joining EEM, Sexton work appeared in Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Florida Medical Business, the Florida Current and a range of trade magazines.

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.