When I returned from Atlanta to D.C. in November 2008, having wrapped up coverage of the Libertarian Party’s presidential campaign for Reason magazine, Spencer Ackerman came to me with an idea: Why not work for The Washington Independent? Reason and I were parting ways, and no one else in the city had a beat quite like mine — covering the conservative movement from every angle, breaking bread with its leaders and activists. TWI Editor-in-Chief Laura McGann seconded the idea and recommended me to David Bennahum and Blake de Pastino. A few interviews later, I settled into my desk, set up my phone, and started working.
Now, 15 months later, I’m only just realizing how lucky I was. I got to work with a first-rate team of reporters like Mike Lillis, Daphne Eviatar, Rachel Hartman, and Mary Kane — our new editor, replacing Laura after she went to dominate the future-of-media beat at Nieman Lab. I was given absolute freedom to cover the conservative movement at its most exciting moment in at least a generation. I got to travel to Kentucky, Missouri, New York and Massachusetts, to watch this moment unfold. And I got to represent my work and our site on NPR and MSNBC, adding — I hope — some context and some wisdom to a topic that is too often mocked and derided.
This is my last day at TWI. On Tuesday, I’ll be picking up this story where it left off for my new blog at The Washington Post. I’m grateful beyond words for everyone here who made me a better reporter, everyone out there who read my stuff, and — not least — the sources who trusted me as I developed this beat.
Keep reading TWI. I’m proud of what we’ve put together here. And come Tuesday, I’ll be another avid reader of this site. One thing we had in common, as reporters and editors, was that we were less interested in the trappings and rewards of D.C. and more interested in asking ourselves what our journalism was supposed to do. I’m eager to see what TWI’s team, with that attitude, comes up with next.