Politico, despite all the criticisms from statistics darling Nate Silver, is one successful operation. And part of what makes that tick is its newsroom, once described as a Hunger Games of starving journalists. A leaked corporate memo from CEO Jim VandeHei on Monday all but enforced that notion: Politico has no time for whiners.
"You have heard us say it a million times: this place isn’t for everyone," VandeHei writes in a memo obtained by Romenesko. "We have learned the hard way that people who whine, project negativity or are complacent hurt the company, no matter how talented they might be at an individual task," he adds.
VandeHei's memo is riveting stuff for anyone that has any dreams of creating their own newsroom, anyone that wants to work for Politico, or anyone that wants a job in general. And it's not unlike Buzzfeed's no hater's policy. "Not everyone has the maker or creator title. But everyone feels like they're behind the same purpose," Buzzfeed Chief Creative Officer Jeff Greenspan told Fast Company last year. (Full disclosure: the company I work for has a culture credo too, and jerks aren't wanted here either.)
And VandeHei's memo comes from different perspective from what we've seen in the past.
As outsiders, we've heard whispers of the vaunted Politico contract and how journalists sign those things like Kobe Bryant does with the Lakers, watched Politico lure really great journalists away from places like The New York Times, and have even seen the publication described as a "cult" or a Hunger Games atmosphere — in the Hunger Games only the people who have the will to kill and be exceptional survive. The Huffington Post's magazine unleashed this gem last year:
Politico staffers routinely talk of a Politico "star-system" in which a handful of reporters in the VandeHarris orbit receive preferential treatment from company leadership, while the majority are left drifting in a far off journalistic galaxy. One former staffer likens the newsroom to The Hunger Games, in which young people fight to the death for the enjoyment of a privileged class.
VandeHei's memo, is more confirmation of that. "We work for a hot brand doing important work with some of the smartest people in the world. It should rarely be a drag," he writes (hot brand!). Vocal members of the whining community, you have been warned: look elsewhere for employment.