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The Love, Journalism Show
Episode 13: Eliana Johnson, ink stained wretch

Episode 13: Eliana Johnson, ink stained wretch

The Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief on being a conservative, underdog journalist.

I’m Darren Samuelsohn, and thanks for listening to The love, journalism Show. My guest is Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon.

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One of the many cool things about putting in a decade of work at Politico is getting to know many talented colleagues who have since gone on to do great things at other news outlets.

Eliana Johnson is one of those people.

We were reporters together on the Trump White House beat and on a couple of occasions even co-bylined articles capturing a few moments from that crazy period of recent US history.

She left Politico in the fall of 2019 for a job with all kinds of new responsibilities as the editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative and still relatively new for its time digital news outlet.

Eliana’s still leading her team, which is now keeping tabs on the White House and closely tracking things like the House Select Committee on China. It’s even up to volume 39 of its presidential “Senior Moment of the Week” for Biden, age 80.

She’s also now a fellow podcaster who on a weekly basis co-hosts Ink Stained Wretches with Chris Stirewalt. This may sound familiar for the love, journalism audience: They explore their mutual love-hate relationships with the news business.

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In my recent conversation with Eliana, she shared her takeaways on jumping from reporting into being a first-time manager at the Free Beacon and what it’s been like leading a team of right-leaning journalists trying to skill up in the tools of traditional journalism.

She also talked about the upsides of working at a news outlet that doesn’t get anywhere near the level of access and cooperation from sources on the political left compared with her mainstream media competitors.

“I like to be the underdog and punch above my weight,” she said.

Eliana tried to land a job with her Yale degree writing speeches for the US government before catching the journalism bug. Then came stops at the New York Sun, the Council on Foreign Relations, Sean Hannity and Fox News Channel, National Review, CNN and as my fellow crew mate on the Politico pirate ship.

Now captain of the Free Beacon, she espouses to her charges how a good journalist doesn’t need a fancy college degree but really just an insatiable curiosity and writing chops: “This is not rocket science.”

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love, journalism
The Love, Journalism Show
A podcast full of insights, interviews, ideas and inspiration from Darren Samuelsohn, a veteran journalist who has been reporting and editing writers for 30+ years.