Primary Voting Underway — It’s an election day in Virginia. On the ballot in Arlington is the Democratic race for County Board, between Chanda Choun and Matt de Ferranti, and the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with candidates Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas and E. W. Jackson. Voting will continue through 7 p.m. [Twitter]
Post-Parade Party in Courthouse — Those heading to the Capitals Stanley Cup victory parade downtown today can head on back to Arlington for an afterparty at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, hosted by the Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks. The event starts at 3 p.m. [RMNB]
Final Issue of ‘The Citizen’ — Arlington County’s “The Citizen” newsletter is publishing its last issue this week. The county-run publication is ceasing its print issues due to budget cuts. The move was lamented by the Sun Gazette, which wrote that The Citizen provided “information that, most likely, many local residents will now not get, despite the government’s plethora of online-centric public-relations efforts.” [InsideNova]
Clement: Strip Washington from W-L Too — Independent Arlington School Board candidate Audrey Clement says it is “hypocrisy in the extreme” for the “Lee” in “Washington-Lee High School” to be removed without also removing “Washington.” Wrote Clement: “Had not George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson — all Virginia native sons and all slave holders — greased the skids of institutionalized slavery by agreeing to write it into the U.S. Constitution, Lee would not have taken up arms against his own nation.” [Audrey Clement]
Apartment Building to Get Free Broadband — “Arlington’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, announced in December 2017, will leverage the County’s fiber-optic network, ConnectArlington, to bring free broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income households in Arlington, including those with school-age children. Arlington Mill Residences, a low- and moderate-income residential development, will serve as the demonstration project for the initiative.” [Arlington County]
Paving on Lorcom Lane — Crews are paving Lorcom Lane between N. Fillmore and Daniel streets today. [Twitter]
Nearby: Second Northside Social Opens — The new Falls Church outpost of Clarendon cafe Northside Social has opened in the Little City. “The business itself will offer a menu similar to its Clarendon location, but a basement that allows for a commercial-sized bakery and chef Matt Hill’s creative inklings will provide new lunch and dinner options.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Across the street from the Crystal City Metro station, in a nondescript office building, stands the headquarters of Bloomberg BNA, one of Arlington County’s largest private employers.
Each day, more than 1,000 employees push through its revolving glass doors or take the elevator up from the underground garage.
Bloomberg BNA is an information and research company which provides “legal, tax, compliance, government affairs and government contracting professionals with critical information, practical guidance and workflow solutions.” Established in 1929 as the Bureau of National Affairs, the company was employee-owned from 1947 until 2011, when it became a subsidiary of financial news and information giant Bloomberg.
Paul Albergo, the bureau chief, has worked at Bloomberg BNA for over 30 years. Around 200 people work under Albergo at Bloomberg BNA’s Crystal City news division.
“We are one of the largest news-gathering organizations in Washington,” Albergo said. “We have the largest number of reporters that are credentialed on Capitol Hill.”
Bloomberg BNA was in D.C.’s West End from the 1920s until 2007, when it came to Arlington, lured by tax incentives, which were extended earlier this year. Previously, the company was scattered amongst several different buildings. In Crystal City, employees are an elevator ride away from each other.
In the new space, people from various departments can rub shoulders in the “pantry” — a pristine, sunlit eating area boasting an exotic fish tank and a peanut butter grinder.
“You tend to run into people that you’re thinking about but you don’t have a formal meeting with and suddenly you can have communication,” Albergo said.
One of the many perks of the company’s new building is an easy commute: the West End location was not close to a Metro station and could be difficult to reach by car.
“To go from a neighborhood that was kind of tucked away in a corner of the city to a location that was well-served by Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], just a couple blocks off the highway and other major commuter routes [made] everyone’s commute a lot easier,” Albergo said.
Albergo himself lives in the District but his commute is about 20 minutes quicker than before. Ironically, although the company is no longer in D.C., it now takes reporters less time to get to their important events on Capitol Hill, among other places.
“In many ways it becomes really easy to recruit people that come to work here because commuting is so easy,” Albergo said.
Crystal City also allows for plenty of food options outside of the pantry. Albergo enjoys sandwiches from Taylor Gourmet and pizza slices from We, The Pizza. He also likes that he can drive a few minutes and easily grab lunch at Pentagon Row or Pentagon City. He often frequents Food Truck Thursday, which happens just outside the office.
“I can just go right up to the window and look down and see what food trucks are there,” he said.
When Bloomberg bought BNA in 2011, the company underwent a great deal of change. While the shareholders and employees were no longer one, Bloomberg began to invest heavily in its new subsidiary.
“[We went] from a company that had that ‘Mom and Pop’ feel to an international organization, [which] allowed us to really expand, take risks, to really invest in certain ways that we might not have been able to do as an employee-owned company,” Albergo said.
Physically, a lot changed for the business. BNA adopted Bloomberg’s “open work plan” of no private offices — now, everyone has a cubicle. This was not a big change for the news bureau because most news employees already had cubicles, but it was for other areas of the company.
“It’s beautiful, it’s open. It’s really allowed for greater collaboration and much better communication,” Albergo said. “It’s an attractive setting so when you bring someone here for an interview, [they want to work here].”
As for a typical day in the life of a bureau chief, Albergo says there is no such thing. He comes into the office, sits down at his desk among his collection of Batman memorabilia, and takes action on the ever-changing news of the day. Some days he also has to troubleshoot a technical problem, other days he answers a customer’s question or tries to fill an open position.
“A typical day is atypical, unpredictable,” Albergo said.
Although coffee is readily available at the office when Local News Now Founder Scott Brodbeck arrives, he typically brings his own. He knows that he’ll need the earlier jump start before leaping right in at the office and turning on the police scanner while sifting through readers’ news tips.
While the business aspects of Local News Now and much of the daily writing for local news website ARLnow.com are done at the MakeOffices Clarendon home base, covering news means being ready to go out on assignment at any given time.
“For us, the location is great. Being able to walk to so many things has been huge,” says Brodbeck.
Obviously, there’s far more to Arlington than just Clarendon, but being based at such a central location in the county makes for easy transportation to story locations. Staff usually walk, run or drive to stories, although Brodbeck explains that they have not yet delved into a very Arlington-esque mode of transportation while on the clock.
“We haven’t biked to any stories yet, but it’s something we’re considering,” he says with a laugh.
On one particularly busy news day last month, Brodbeck took the short walk from his office to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly opened Hyatt Place Hotel in Courthouse. He snaps photos and listens to speeches from corporate and county leaders as dozens sip champagne to celebrate the new development at the space previously occupied by Wilson Tavern, and Kitty O’Shea’s before it.
(Brodbeck refrained from imbibing the bubbly on the job, but isn’t opposed to an after-working-hours beer from one of MakeOffices’ kegerators.)
Along the way to the event, Brodbeck does what reporters do: He keeps an eye out for other potential stories. That means taking photos of progress at two nearby construction sites, investigating a “temporarily closed” sign at Five Guys (it has since reopened) and making a note to stop at the just-opened Blumen Cafe after the ribbon-cutting event.
Business does not come to a halt at Local News Now headquarters when Brodbeck and other reporters are out in the field. Back at the office, Director of Sales and Business Engagement Meghan McMahon gears up to meet with advertising clients. For her, location is also key for conducting work tasks.
“I work with a lot of local Arlington businesses. Being able to run in and out of the office to meet people… is very convenient,” she says.
McMahon’s life recently changed with the birth of her daughter and now another important aspect comes into play daily: balancing work life with being a mom.
Returning to a coworking space after maternity leave at first seemed overwhelming for McMahon, who suddenly had to factor breastfeeding into her daily routine. “When I first came in I saw that everything’s glass, everything’s open. I wondered where my privacy would be,” she says. “I was a little stressed about how to be in a working office environment and also be able to pump and do the things I have to do to be a new mom.”
But it turns out that MakeOffices Clarendon has an amenity McMahon wasn’t aware of at first. There are small, completely private, secure rooms called “wellness centers” that she now takes advantage of twice each work day.
“That was a sense of relief for me,” she says. “I can take a few minutes out of my day and go relax in the wellness rooms… It gives me 20 minutes of alone time so that I can get ‘mom stuff’ done.”
McMahon jokes about how quickly work environment priorities can change, noting that previously she had enjoyed the happy hours in the office common areas.
“I was that person who would take advantage of the opportunity to drink and socialize, but very quickly my life has changed where I now need to do both… and to have an environment that caters to both,” she says. “Here you have the gamut… people who appreciate the social environment, and then the people who just like me… have to be a working mom.”
Simply put, making the transition from a young professional to a mom/professional in the coworking environment hasn’t involved the hassles McMahon had feared, which allows her to easily continue running Local News Now’s sales.
“Everyone has been really respectful,” she says. “I very much appreciate that sense of it.”
Brodbeck has enjoyed his share of office happy hours, but today there’s too much business to finish up to consider socializing. First, he preps for a meeting and conference call with the small business’ advisory board members and for a podcast interview with Rep. Don Beyer. Then he needs to check in again with employees at Local News Now’s other two sites: RestonNow and Borderstan.
He does, however, take advantage of the mild fall weather by moving outside to work on the third floor patio.
“You don’t have to stay chained to a desk if the weather is nice,” he explains. Plus, the view allows him to keep an eye on Clarendon as rush hour approaches, just in case any action arises that needs covering.
Again, he says, location is everything. Not to mention the overall benefits of being based in a coworking space, like not having to spend time and energy setting up a standalone location. With the frenetic pace of covering Arlington’s 26 square miles for its 230,000 residents, there’s just not enough time in the day to stress over buying office furniture or deciding who’s going to clean up the kitchen.
“Here we can just focus on what we do best — the news.”
Man Busted for Meth Lab Worked for USA Today — One of the men arrested in connection with a suspected meth lab in a Virginia Square apartment building used to be a journalist who was regularly published in USA Today. Leonard Fischer, 44, was formerly a technology reporter for Gannett News Service. [Jim Romenesko, Kenneth in the 212]
Arlington Unemployment Rate Declines — Arlington still has the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia. Arlington’s jobless rate dipped from 3.7 percent in June to 3.5 percent in July, according to newly-released data. The average in Virginia is 6 percent, and the national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Outdoor Movie Lineup Announced — Crystal City’s lineup of outdoor movies for 2013 has been announced. The series — with the theme of “Blockbusters” — will kick of with E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial on June 3, 2013 and will wrap up with Jurassic Park on Aug. 26, 2013. The lineup was chosen via online vote by members of the public. [Crystal City]
That news comes as Washington Post employees reported on Twitter that the Post is shuttering all of its Virginia and Maryland local bureaus, with the exception of Richmond and Annapolis. The Post currently has local bureaus in Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Prince William County and elsewhere.
The Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko has a memo from the Washington Post Guild’s Facebook page confirming the closures. “The closure of the physical buildings does not mean that the Post will reduce its local coverage,” according to the memo.
No word yet on the Post’s plans for coverage in Arlington.
Crystal City Recycles Tons of Electronics — About 33.5 tons of electronics and four tons of paper were recycled at yesterday’s “Power Shred and Purge” in Crystal City. Hundreds of people and businesses dropped off hundreds of computer monitors, printers, CPUs and servers, along with 5,000 pounds of cables and batteries. The annual event also featured free paper shredding.
Kiddie Rapist Going Away for Very Long Time — Benjamin Ramirez-Segovia, 43, who pled guilty to the 1993 rape of a 9-year-old girl in Arlington, has been given four consecutive life sentences. He was arrested in March 2008 after the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit re-examined the DNA evidence in the case.
McAfee Antivirus Bug Shuts Down NSF Computers — A major problem with an automatic update to McAfee’s corporate antivirus software hit the Arlington headquarters of the National Science Foundation yesterday, knocking the organization’s computers offline.
New Local News Website Has a Name — A new inhabitant at 1100 Wilson Blvd has a new name. TBD is the newly-minted moniker for Allbritton Communication’s new local news website. The site, overseen by former washingtonpost.com executive editor Jim Brady, will eventually replace the current websites for Arlington-based Allbritton TV properties ABC7 and NewsChannel8.