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Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An Interview with Jasper Simons, Director for Special Markets, CQ Press - 16 Mar 2011

Q

Knowledgespeak: CQ Press was acquired by SAGE in May 2008. Can you please briefly talk about this commercial move and the resultant synergies?

A

Jasper Simons : Both Sage and CQ Press share a long tradition of providing products that impact education and public policy. CQ Press has deeps roots in Washington DC, dating back to 1945. Our Congressional Staff Directory was first published in 1959. CQ Press continues as a dedicated inside-the-beltway publisher, while at the same time benefiting from Sage’s excellent capabilities in serving the global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers and students.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Earlier last month, CQ Press announced the launch of a specialized service called First Street. Can you please provide some general detail and background on this new initiative?

A

Jasper Simons : Most directory publishing is focused on ensuring the most current information is available. CQ Press saw an opportunity in the marketplace to combine its proprietary archive of directory information and its current directory content with government data to create the world’s first policy network intelligence platform. It is a mega-database that consolidates Congressional, government and lobbying information from authoritative data sources dating back to 1993. It gives an unprecedented understanding of the relationships shaping policy.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Is First Street™ more competitive than other similar services offered by Bloomberg and Politico?

A

Jasper Simons : Bloomberg Government and Politico Pro offer editorial content that is a direct extension of their existing activities. First Street™ offers something entirely new. Never before has anyone connected the professional career paths of registered lobbyists, those in Congress, and federal staff on a rich platform with information on contributions, lobbying, legislation, issues and districts. On top of that First Street™ provides next generation data visualization tools. The end result is actionable policy network intelligence.


Q

Knowledgespeak: As First Street™ relates to diverse data sources, what, according to you, will be the main challenges in maintaining First Street™ as the most preferable source for the target audiences?

A

Jasper Simons : There is a vast audience of those who try to affect policy in Washington. Every day professionals in corporations, associations and lobbying firms are trying to get an edge in their efforts to have their voice heard. There is only so much time in a day and there are many competing interests. Having accurate targeted content at your finger tips that you can trust and rely on will give them a lead over others. It is incumbent on CQ Press, through First Street, to maintain itself as the authoritative voice on directory information within the beltway.


Q

Knowledgespeak: With First Street displaying the relationships between staffers, lobbyists, and members of Congress, is this new product likely to be a social media tool in Government space?

A

Jasper Simons : The New York Times called First Street™ a "Facebook for Lobbyists". There are some parallels but also some notable differences. Yes, we provide insight into the networks of movers and shakers in Washington, but we provide that through their professional relationships.We provide objective connections between people, not subjective, self-selected friendships. We couple that with our biographies and profiles to offer a true policy network intelligence platform.


Q

Knowledgespeak: As part of one of the most successful academic publishers, can you briefly summarize how the needs of information-consumers, especially in the US, have evolved in the recent few years?

A

Jasper Simons : In recent years, many of the developments in the STM publishing space have been centered around how content is delivered and how it is being discovered. To date, the core content (journals and books) and their business models have not changed as much as some had feared or hoped. The number of players in the content channel has substantially increased though. As a result, publisher run the risk of becoming further and further removed from the end users. Providing smart solutions that blend and leverage valuable content and intuitive platforms is the way forward.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Finally can you please provide your/CQ press' perspective on the backdrop of the rapidly increasing activity in the Washington DC publishing arena?

A

Jasper Simons : The news industry is undergoing many changes. News organizations are trying to monetize their editorial efforts in light of decreasing print revenues. It will be interesting to see if these organizations can adapt. At CQ Press we focus on Washington’s unique and highly competitive and constantly changing social landscape, as we have for decades. First Street™ provides a knowledge edge to those who want to affect policy. First Street™ unlocks the networks that shape policy and provides actionable government intelligence. These are exciting times!


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