Carrie Budoff Brown is the current editor of Politico and the former managing editor of Politico Europe
Carrie Budoff Brown has done it all. She’s covered local city halls, followed Barack Obama on his campaign trail, started a new kind of newsroom in Europe, and more. Now, she’s running Politico’s newsroom in Washington, DC, as the organization’s editor. Budoff Brown sat down with host Luke Scorziell to discuss how she ended up in political journalism, some of the lessons she’s learned over the years, and more.
Before she became one of the country’s top journalists, Carrie Budoff Brown worked as a reporter for several local newspapers. She recalls being attracted to the profession after visiting a local newsroom full of energetic, seemingly happy, young reporters. This scene attracted her towards journalism and away from law, where she thought she would always end up.
Not too much later, Budoff Brown was covering politics for the Hartford Courant, a small paper in Hartford, Connecticut. While at the Courant, she learned several valuable lessons that still serve her in her career today.
“I just mentioned off-hand that I liked politics in addition to so many other things. And she zeroed in on that and said, ‘Oh you’re going to be a politics reporter for me.‘” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on covering politics at the Hartford Courant early in her career
“You learn that you have to be able to wake up every day and stand behind what you write. And that was probably the most formative thing I could have learned as a young journalist.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on working at small papers early in her career before heading Politico
“The same sort of operating principles apply no matter where you are: Be curious, test your assumptions, always ask the extra question. If you’re not sure of something you need to pick up the phone and double check. There’s nothing that’s too small to try to get right.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on journalism’s best practices
A New Stage
Budoff Brown arrived in Washington, DC, just before the Great Recession. Up to that point, her career had been spent at local papers. Now she was taking on the country’s capital at one of its newest media organizations, Politico.
At Politico, Budoff Brown worked as their White House correspondent, covering several historic moments. For example, she led Politico’s coverage of the Affordable Care Act’s passage. She also covered the Senate, President Obama’s campaign, and many other events.
“I took it simply because I wanted to be a journalist that worked at an organization that was not laying off people. And that’s where we were in 2006 or 2007 right before the recession.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on taking her first job at Politico
Managing Editor of Politico Europe
Politico launched Politico Europe in April 2015, and Carrie Budoff Brown was asked to be the first managing editor of the newly launched edition. She welcomed the opportunity to leave Washington. “I always sort of knew I’d need to take a break from Washington, or I wouldn’t be there forever, ” Budoff Brown told me.
“Even though the presidential election was happening in America, it almost seemed like when I went to Europe some of the biggest stories that were dominating headlines around the world were happening in Europe.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on being the managing editor of Politico Europe from 2015-2016 during the Greek Debt Crisis, Brexit, and several large terrorist attacks
“In Brussels and really across the European Union, there are just great stories that American media organizations just haven’t taken seriously. And so I just saw a great opportunity and freedom there.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on the opportunities for journalism in Europe
“93% of the people who bought with us had renewed, and that was the first major indicator to me that this could survive in Brussels or in Europe.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on Politico Europe’s first signs of success
Editor of Politico
After helping Politico Europe establish a solid foundation, Budoff Brown returned to Washington, DC, as the editor of Politico at the end of 2016.
“The Washington I left in 2014 was completely unlike the Washington I came back to at the end of 2016. The number of major stories that you would consider major in any previous administration were multiple times a day.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on her return to Washington, DC, in 2016 as editor of Politico
“The mandate for the reporters in my newsroom is that you have to find something distinctive that hasn’t been reported before.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown on her expectations for her more than 250 reporters at Politico
“Find your own model of reporting and writing, and it does not have to be like the one you often see in movies. Be yourself. That’s probably more powerful than anything you can do or model yourself after.” ~ Carrie Budoff Brown’s advice for aspiring female journalists
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About Luke Scorziell
Mr. Scorziell created The Edge of Ideas when he was 15 years old. After a few years of blogging he found a passion for podcasting and now regularly has guests on his show, Bills with Luke Scorziell. He currently writes for USC Annenberg Media and produces a weekly segment on Annenberg Radio News called “Politicking.” You can find more of his work here. Find out more about Luke and his unique journey. Feel free to send Luke a message below.
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