WAR ROOM is a labor of love
The More Things Change …
I had been at the US Army War College for only a few months when Andrew Hill, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of WAR ROOM, stopped me outside of my office. “I think you are not boring. Do you want to run the podcast?” It was quite a pitch. No matter that I had no idea how to produce or edit a podcast. We’d figure it out.
And that’s what we did. Andrew had a vision for WAR ROOM, and I was happy to join the team. For two years, we worked hard to create something interesting in a very crowded space. We cast our net widely: we’d consider publishing anything related to defense, national security, international relations, policy, strategy, leadership, and management. The good news was that we found a niche that supported the War College’s educational mission—publishing relevant content on the enduring ideas and context underlying current events. We avoided competing with the news cycle. We risked losing contributors who wanted to publish on whatever was in yesterday’s news. But even if we wanted to, we could not take that on.
In early editorial-team meetings, it seemed like we might have barely enough content to get by. But we managed. We celebrated as our social media followers ticked up (don’t forget, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram) and as great submissions came in. Now, I’m happy to report that the rate of submissions is steady—although we want more—and we’re establishing a reputation for publishing content that can spark conversation even months (or years) after a piece was published.
… The More They Stay The Same
It’s been about a month since Andrew handed over the reins. And I hope that you haven’t noticed a thing. We’re publishing articles and podcasts. We’re accepting and reviewing and editing submissions. We’re planning podcasts and recording new episodes. We’re talking with students and faculty in various Professional Military Education (PME) programs about how they can use WAR ROOM to support learning and help students prepare work for public consumption. On the important matters, very little has changed. As Andrew wrote, we have a shared vision WAR ROOM.
But some things are changing. So today, I want to take a moment to announce some changes to the editorial team here at WAR ROOM, to make official some changes to our processes, and to write a bit about the future—where we see this experiment headed in the next couple of years.
First, WAR ROOM is a labor of love. For the first two years, we ran entirely on volunteer labor, late nights, some panic, and probably too much caffeine. But it is labor, and sustaining WAR ROOM requires institutional resources and commitment. The Army War College Foundation provided the crucial injection of capital to get the project off the ground, and the War College is all in. So today, I am pleased to announce that Buck Haberichter is beginning his tenure as a full-time paid employee as the Managing Editor of WAR ROOM. Tom Galvin, our departing Managing Editor, deserves a tremendous amount of credit and heartfelt thanks for his tireless work to establish processes and to keep things running over the last two years. (You should see how this man’s brain works—his nickname is Neo, in case you were wondering.)
Tom isn’t leaving the team, though. He, along with Mary Foster, and JP Clark are all staying on as senior editors. They are adding Paul Kan, a frequent contributor to WAR ROOM, to their ranks. I’ll work closely with them to ensure our feedback to authors is timely, relevant, and helpful and to maintain the high standard for quality that we have established over the last two years.
As for the podcast, there’s no way for me to take on the responsibilities as Editor-in-Chief and to continue to produce podcasts at the rate and quality we desire. So I cornered a new colleague, Ron Granieri, and gave him the same pitch I heard a couple years ago. “I think you are not boring.” Ron is an experienced podcaster, and I promise he’ll keep A BETTER PEACE informative, provocative, and entertaining. We’ll be making this transition over the next few weeks, so you’ll still hear my voice for a while. And I’ll continue to pop in now and again to host episodes and to participate in roundtable discussions—the podcast may always be where my heart is at WAR ROOM.
Two new editors are joining the team to generate and edit content for two of our featured series. Tom Bruscino will be the editor for the DUSTY SHELVES series, which focuses on historical content. I’ve asked him to solicit and publish monthly content for this series: articles or podcasts that examine important historical documents or artifacts and explain why they are of interest to contemporary national security leaders; brief critical examinations of “old” but valuable texts; and articles that examine historical events in light of contemporary context. The WAR ROOM team knows that historical analysis has an important place in the national security conversation.
In June 2018, we launched WHITEBOARD, a new format for asking questions and inviting a range of short responses. You’ll notice that we’ve taken about a six-month hiatus, but I’m pleased to have Mark Duckenfield joining the editorial team as the WHITEBOARD editor. We’re preserving the format of asking a single question to a range of experts and publishing their short responses. However instead of soliciting and publishing selected responses in a follow-up post, we’re simply going to encourage robust, collegial, and rigorous debate in the comment section of these posts. We’ll publish a new WHITEBOARD post each month.
Our mandate is to publish provocative, thoughtful, engaging, and insightful pieces related to defense and national security
We will continue to add to our other special series, such as GREAT STRATEGISTS, GREAT CAPTAINS, and SENIOR LEADER PERSPECTIVES series as we can, and WAR ROOM is happy to add other series such as the INTELLIGENCE series as ideas and content align.
Finally, we’re adding three Associate Editors to the team: Leon Perkowski, Kris Wheaton and Jon Klug. Leon, Kris and Jon are going to be working with writers as developmental editors and on other critical tasks to enhance the WAR ROOM experience.
Alongside these changes, we’ve made a few tweaks to our submission guidelines and processes. Most important is a change in the email address for submissions. Please send ALL submissions to WarRoomEditors@gmail.com. Second: we will now accept and review pitches for articles in addition to accepting full article submissions. If you have an idea, but aren’t sure WAR ROOM is the right fit, send us a pitch. If you have an idea and think WAR ROOM is the right place for it, but you could use some editorial feedback in shaping the essay for the WAR ROOM audience, send us a pitch.
Our submission guidelines are all now on one page—there’s no PDF file to click through for specifics. These streamlined guidelines, as well as the number of submissions we are receiving, also means that we will be returning articles that don’t meet these guidelines without further editorial review. Please ensure your submissions conform to the simple guidelines outlined here. The major change here is a slight reduction in the maximum word count for articles, which we are reducing from 2000 to 1800. We will also accept shorter pieces (800-1000 words) for consideration.
But the wheels keep turning
So, what’s next for WAR ROOM?
First, we will sustain the quality of the articles and podcasts we’re publishing. The raison d’être of WAR ROOM has not changed. Our mandate is to publish provocative, thoughtful, engaging, and insightful pieces related to defense and national security. We will also sustain our crowdsourcing approach to content. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and anyone can write for WAR ROOM.
Second, I am going to devote as much of my editorial time and attention as possible to expanding WAR ROOM’s audience, reputation, and reach. For me, this goal means pushing well outside of my introverted tendencies to learn more about online publishing, recruit authors, make connections with others in the online NatSec space, follow up with our regular contributors, and to increase our interactions on social media. We have great content, and I want to make sure it reaches the widest possible audience.
Third, my goal in the next year is to increase our pace of publication, so you’ll see new content four or five times a week. This goal is an ambitious one, and it’s going to require a concerted effort to increase the number of submissions we receive and the pace of editorial review. We’re also going to play around some with new formats for publishing content and see what works.
Finally, we want to provide additional support to faculty and students who are interested in publishing their work for a broader audience or who want to incorporate WAR ROOM material into their courses. That goes for PME institutions and civilian institutions as well: the WAR ROOM editorial team would be thrilled to work with professors to think about how WAR ROOM can be integrated into the classroom. We will maintain our editorial standards absolutely, but we want to cultivate WAR ROOM as a supportive and inviting platform to welcome new voices to the conversation.
We’ve got big plans. So here, I’d like to ask for your help. Do you have something to say? Consider submitting it to WAR ROOM first. Do you have friends (or family, or acquaintances, or colleagues, or mentees) who are interested in defense and national security? Invite them to subscribe to WAR ROOM. If you read or listen to something interesting and relevant on WAR ROOM, send it to others who might want to read or listen to it. Leave a comment on an article or podcast. Share or retweet or like WAR ROOM content on social media. Do you have something you’d like to see, or a format we might try out? Let us know. We want WAR ROOM to become a must-read, go-to place for national security and military professionals. You can help us in that endeavor. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Jacqueline E. Whitt is the Editor-in-Chief at WAR ROOM. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Credit: Program Executive Office – Soldier