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Independent Journal Review

Independent Journal Review
Independent Journal Review.svg
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
News aggregation, blogging, journalism
Available inEnglish
Founded2012; 7 years ago (2012)
HeadquartersAlexandria, Virginia, U.S.[1][2]
OwnerMedia Group of America
Founder(s)Alex Skatell
Key peopleAlex Skatell
Current statusActive

The Independent Journal Review (IJR) is a conservative[3][4][5][6][7] American news and opinion website based in Alexandria, Virginia.[1][2] The publication was founded in 2012 by Alex Skatell.[8] Skatell serves as its CEO, with Camden Stuebe as President and Shushanna Walshe, former political director at ABC News as the Editor-At-Large.[9] The site covers general interest topics including politics, culture, entertainment, and viral news content.


Founding and early expansion

In 2012, Alex Skatell, a former digital director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, launched the Independent Journal Review, using $40,000 that Skatell had earned via a software application that he developed at college and $20,000 borrowed from his parents. He believed that there was a gap in the market for a publication that would appeal to "a more mainstream center-right audience" and began aggregating news stories on a Facebook page called Conservative Daily. Skatell promoted the page and later launched the Independent Journal Review.[1]

Skatell then teamed up with Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, to launch IMGE and Media Group of America. Atkinson then hired a staff of writers and editors to contribute to and grow the journal.[1] In 2012, Skatell hired Bert Atkinson as chief editor.[10] By November 2014, the organization employed over 62 staff across Media Group of America.[11]

The site attracted an audience that largely lived outside Washington D.C. political circles that had broader interests than average consumers of political news.[12]

In June 2015, they hired Benny Johnson as a "creative director" from National Review.[13] Johnson had previously worked at Buzzfeed, being fired after plagiarizing content from other websites.[14][15]

In March 2015, the site was named "Best New Publisher of the Year" by Digiday.[16]

2016 election cycle

During the 2015 campaign season, a number of Independent Journal Review political videos acquired national attention, such as Lindsey Graham destroying his cell phone [17] and Ted Cruz making "machine gun bacon."[18]

Then, Independent Journal Review partnered with ABC News to host the Republican Presidential Debate on February 6, 2016.[19][20]

During the 2016 election, Independent Journal Review was listed in the top 10 websites engaged per news story on Facebook.[21] In November 2016, Independent Journal Review became one of the first two digital media companies accepted into the News Media Alliance, formerly the Newspaper Association of America.[22][23]

Post-2016 election

In January 2017, the website was noted for being the first major U.S. news outlet to confirm that Judge Neil Gorsuch would be nominated by president Donald Trump for the Supreme Court, news which failed to spread quickly due to other media outlets' distrust of the Review.[24]

During United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's diplomatic trip to Asia in March 2017, the Independent Journal Review was the only news publication invited to send a reporter to accompany the trip.[25]

Several key members of the Independent Journal Review's editorial staff, including Benny Johnson and Kyle Becker, were suspended in March 2017 over an opinion piece on former President Barack Obama's visit to Hawaii prior to a judge's ruling on the travel ban.[26] Becker later resigned from IJR, and Johnson was fired from Independent Journal Review in October 2017.[27]

In May 2017, Haley Byrd, a congressional reporter for the Independent Journal Review, said she was kicked out of the Speaker's Lobby in the U.S. Capitol because she was wearing a sleeveless dress; Byrd says she was told that she was violating the rules.[28]

In July 2017, IMGE CEO Phil Musser purchased IMGE and formally split the agency out of Media Group of America.[29] A few months later, in September 2017, Musser was named Senior Vice President of Communications at Boeing and left IMGE to a new leadership group.[30]

In mid 2017, IJR launched conservative and liberal verticals, IJR Red and IJR Blue[9] to transparently present a variety of perspectives around conversations across the United States.[31] The site broadened its mission to help organize communities around a set of facts and a variety of perspectives.[citation needed]

In November 2017, IJR was one of a handful of media publications, including The Washington Post, The Economist, Mic, The Globe and Mail, and others, to participate in the launch of 'Trust Indicators' by The Trust Project.[32] According to the Trust Project, 'Trust Indicators' are markings within published news articles that denote to readers the news websites' commitment to increased journalistic and ethical standards in reporting. The Trust Project is described as a consortium of top news companies working collectively to transparency standards and increase accountability in journalism, and is headed by Sally Lehrman[33]


  1. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Leslie (November 2, 2014). "Independent Journal Review Website Becomes a Draw for Conservatives". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "About - Independent Journal Review". Independent Journal Review. Alexandria, Virginia: Media Group of America. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  3. ^ David Karpf (2016). Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy. Oxford University Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-19-026615-8.
  4. ^ "Independent Journal Review Website Becomes a Draw for Conservatives". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  5. ^ Darcy, Oliver. "Independent Journal Review asks employees to sign new noncompete as top talent continues to leave". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  6. ^ "Video producer to depart conservative site". POLITICO. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  7. ^ Sommer, Will (2018-02-16). "Millennial conservative site lays off staff after Facebook change". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  8. ^ Heath, Thomas (January 6, 2015). "IJReview gets $1.5 M funding, led by GOP politico and investor Pete Snyder". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "About Us". IJR. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  10. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (2014-11-02). "Independent Journal Review Website Becomes a Draw for Conservatives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  11. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (2014-11-02). "Independent Journal Review Website Becomes a Draw for Conservatives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  12. ^ Miller, Katherine (November 27, 2013). "The Right Wing Has Its Own Upworthy And You Won't Believe How Well It's Doing". BuzzFeed. New York City: BuzzFeed Inc. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  13. ^ "Why hiring Benny Johnson is a smart play for National Review". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  14. ^ Terris, Ben (June 9, 2015). "Benny Johnson got fired at BuzzFeed. You will believe what happened next". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Gold, Hadas; Shutt, Jennifer (July 26, 2014). "BuzzFeed fires Benny Johnson for plagiarism". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "Digiday Publishing Awards: New York Times, Refinery29 take top honors". Digiday. 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  17. ^ Kelly, Conor (July 22, 2015). "Lindsey Graham Just Destroyed His Cellphone To Spite Donald Trump". ABC News. New York City: ABC. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  18. ^ Maddow, Rachel (August 3, 2015). "Hey Ted Cruz, that's not a machine gun you're cooking with". MSNBC. New York City: NBCUniversal. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Gold, Hadas. "Independent Journal Review's big debate moment". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  20. ^ ABC News Press (February 4, 2016). "ABC News Hosts "New Hampshire: The Republicans Debate" in Partnership with WMUR, Independent Journal Review, RNC and Saint Anselm College". ABC News. New York City: ABC. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  21. ^ Corcoran, Liam (November 10, 2016). "These Were the Biggest Election Day Publishers on Facebook". NewsWhip. New York City: Blogger. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  22. ^ Stroh, Sean (November 4, 2016). "The Newspaper Association of America Rebrands as the News Media Alliance". Editor & Publisher. Irvine, California: Duncan McIntosh Co. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  23. ^ Wang, Shan (September 6, 2016). "Who are the first digital members of the newspaper industry's club? Billy Penn's owner and IJ Review". Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Nieman Fellowship. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  24. ^ Gold, Hadas (February 1, 2017). "Meet the website that scooped the world on Gorsuch". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  25. ^ Yuhas, Alan (March 18, 2017). "Rex Tillerson defends blocking reporters from diplomatic trip to Asia". The Guardian. Kings Place, London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  26. ^ Farhi, Paul (March 24, 2017). "A conservative news crack-up? Things just got real for some partisan personalities". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  27. ^ Fischer, Sara (October 20, 2017). "Scoop: Benny Johnson out at Independent Journal Review". Axios. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  28. ^ "Are sleeveless dresses "appropriate attire"? Congress doesn't think so". CBS News. New York City: CBS. July 7, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  29. ^ "IMGE breaks from IJR". Axios. 2017-07-25. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  30. ^ "Phil Musser takes top Boeing job; new partners to lead IMGE". Axios. 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  31. ^ "How IJR plans to burst the filter bubble with a dose of The Resistance - Digiday". Digiday. 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  32. ^ "Facebook, Google, Twitter and media outlets fight hoaxes with 'trust indicators'". USA Today. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  33. ^ Lehrman, Sally (October 16, 2014). "Online Chaos Demands Radical Action by Journalism to Earn Trust". Markkula Center for Ethics. Retrieved October 16, 2014.

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