If you live on the Hill, you’ve undoubtedly passed Larry Janezich in the street. A neatly-built, spare man, the editor of Capitol Hill Corner often shields his face with a ball cap, escaping public notice much of the time.
However, if he’d ever lifted his head to look right at you, you’d remember him: Janezich has piercing hazel eyes, a pointed nose and a widow’s peak. When your eye meets his through the flash of his glasses, you will note: Janezich is scrutinizing everything he sees.
The sharp features are a tell for the mind of the editor of Capitol Hill Corner, the hyper-local, lone-man-on-the-street online news source. In 2020, the site celebrates ten years of Janezich using that eagle eye to spot local stories.
“I believe it is important for the community to be informed, not just about things they want to know about, but what they need to know about,” Janezich said.
A Capitol Hill Man
Janezich’s blog, Capitol Hill Corner, is a continuation of what he did for most of his career –but for a different audience. Hailing from Pueblo, Colorado, Janezich arrived on Capitol Hill in 1966, coming with a patronage appointment from Senator Peter Dominick (R-CO) to become a messenger in the Senate Document Room.
“Like everybody else in Washington, I thought, ‘well, I’ll do that for a year and I’ll go home’, but nobody does,” he said. “Everybody stays here and finds a different path from what they thought they were going to do.”
Janezich took up residence in the neighborhood immediately upon arrival and never left, living in a string of addresses that he can still rattle off from memory before buying his current home near Eastern Market in 1990.
Janezich found a job at Senate Radio TV Gallery, where he served for nearly 40 years, retiring in 2005. He issued credentials, managed logistics for coverage of senate events and kept journalists aware of everything important that was happening in the Senate, not only events, but also details of legislation and parliamentary procedure.
“It was something I really wanted to do, and I really enjoyed doing it,” he said. “It was a great job. I would have done it for nothing.”
“Now, my job as I see it is to keep a different community informed,” said Janezich.
On retirement, Janezich began volunteering for the Capitol Hill Gardening Club and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Capitol Hill Corner began as a website during a 2010 run for ANC Commissioner. It quickly evolved into a platform for his views on development, historic restoration and neighborhood happenings. While his political bid was unsuccessful, Janezich enjoyed having a forum to share items of interest with the Capitol Hill community.
Readers now receive his ‘The Week Ahead’, a compendium of his choice of notable neighborhood events in their inbox every Monday morning. “The ‘Week Ahead’ posts offer both vital information and some unique insights into Capitol Hill life,” said Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06). “The posts make it easy for anyone to follow the work of all three ANCs as well as events that may have slipped through the cracks. Every Sunday night I look forward to the email notification of his post.”
Since 2010, Janezich has written more than 1500 posts on Capitol Corner. They have been viewed more than 1,400,000 times. “My blog was not established with the intent of attracting advertisers or being a moneymaker,” he said. “It was established as an exercise in community building.”
On Capitol Hill Corner, Janezich pursues his civic interests. Large media outlets pay attention. His coverage of the Archibald Walk treehouse was echoed by the Washington Post. His announcement of the opening of District Soul Food was viewed by more than 12,000 people. His coverage of the 2013 Frager’s Fire proved popular as well.
Janezich employs Capitol Corner to throw a spotlight on issues he believes are critical to the Capitol Hill community. He often writes about neighborhood development and the interaction of the community with District Council and District Agencies. Some of his earliest work centered on the redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza, which he has now followed for over a decade.
At Capitol Hill Corner, Janezich is editor, principal writer, photographer and researcher; not to mention tech support. For the first few years, he attended every Capitol Hill community meeting, up to four a week. Now, he attends those that might yield an interesting story. Yet, he remains a ubiquitous presence at Hill events.
“I’m amazed by Larry’s determination and ability to go to as many meetings as he does,” said Holman. “He’s seemingly always there, listening intently. I have no idea how he does it.”
Writing The Book
While Capitol Hill Corner takes up a great deal of time, Janezich’s major project is The Senate Journal. Based on the daily notes taken while head of the Senate broadcast office, it is a 3,000-page chronicle and annotated archive. This work, he said, will contribute to the larger story of the development of Senate broadcast journalism from 35 mm film to the internet. Janezich plans to deposit the work with the Senate historian.
Hyperlocal blogs, Janezich said, contribute to a vibrant Capitol Hill. “All of us who write about the community, the Hill Rag [and] the Hill is Home included –contribute to the cohesiveness of the community. I think people want to share information, and I think the ability to give them information that they can share makes for a stronger community.”
You can read Janezich’s work at capitolhillcorner.org. Reach Larry Janezich at firstname.lastname@example.org