About Once Upon a Hill

Once Upon a Hill is a new, in-depth publication about Congress, campaigns, politics and more. Michael Jones, a former fashion journalist turned congressional reporter who previously wrote the politics newsletter Supercreator News, launched OUAH to provide thoughtful, accessible and singular coverage of the most powerful branch of the United States government for both political insiders and everyday Americans interested in what’s now and why it matters—and what’s next.

Delivered twice a week, OUAH dives deep into the people and policies shaping the legislative agenda—with a focus on Democratic politics in the MAGA era—plus domestic issues like abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, gun violence prevention, health care accessibility, student loan reform, the affordable housing crisis, food insecurity, race and gender inequality, and artificial intelligence regulation.

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Meet Michael

Michael Jones is the founding editor of Once Upon a Hill and the only independent Black reporter accredited by a congressional press gallery. This distinction brings a unique perspective to an institution traditionally led and covered by mostly white men and deepens public trust at a time when faith in media is at an all-time low.

Most recently, Michael founded and wrote Supercreator News, the premier politics newsletter for the creative class that counted members of Congress and their staff, Biden administration officials, former Obama administration officials, and leaders at top advocacy groups among its readership. In this role, he covered the passage and implementation of landmark bills in the 117th Congress, the nomination and confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, and the House Democratic Caucus’s leadership transition from the Old Three (Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn) to the New Three (Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, Pete Aguilar). During the 118th Congress, he’s chronicled the rise and fall of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the first-year class of House progressives—including Congress’s first Gen-Z member—and too many crises to count, from a near-default on the US debt to multiple government funding cliffs. Before launching Supercreator News, Michael was a fashion journalist and e-commerce writer for two global magazine brands. He used to write a cool fashion blog, too. 

His work has been cited in The Washington Post, Politico, Semafor, and #blkcreatives. In addition to OUAH, he also writes a weekly column on the intersection of Capitol Hill and democracy for COURIER, a civic media company on a mission to create a more informed, engaged, and representative America. He is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and a proud inaugural alum of the On Deck Writer fellowship.

Born and raised in Dallas (go Cowboys!), Michael attended Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he studied journalism and wrote for The East Texan, the campus’s award-winning student-led newspaper. He now splits his time in Washington, DC and New York City and enjoys true-crime documentaries, Beyoncé, and FaceTiming his niece and nephew.


Asked and Answered

Why is Once Upon a Hill published on Substack?

Substack has revolutionized independent journalism by combining a blog, newsletter, payment processing, and customer support team into one product. It handles the behind-the-scenes admin work, billing and tech so I can focus on bringing you my best work while minimizing overhead costs. But since I own my intellectual property, mailing list, and subscriber payments, I enjoy complete editorial control, which allows me to keep you at the forefront of everything I do.

Substack also provides a best-in-class reading experience for you. In addition to being in your inbox and on the web, Once Upon a Hill is available through the Substack app—(App Store, Google Play)—where you can refine your media diet and join interesting and insightful discussions with me and other Substack writers.

I want the full experience. How can I subscribe to the paid version?

That’s great to hear. Upgrading to a paid subscription is the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of my in-depth reporting.

It’s a quick process—you can get started here. Subscribe month-to-month or get two months free when you pay for the full year. OUAH accepts major credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. If you’re using an Apple device, you can also pay with Apple Pay.

Group subscriptions and gift subscriptions are available as well.

What topics will Once Upon a Hill cover?

Broadly speaking, you can expect reporting on all facets of Congress, including the brass tacks of governing in a divided House and Senate and the relationship between party leaders and the White House.

In 2024, I’ll be deeply focused on congressional Democrats’ campaigns to win back the House and hold the Senate as President Biden seeks a second term.

But if you have followed my work before, you know the vibes: I’m interested in exploring the power dynamics that influence the legislative process and impact the health, wealth, and well-being of historically overlooked and underserved communities. I’ll continue that exploration in OUAH.

What’s it like working from the US Capitol?

It depends!

Sometimes the rhythm of the Hill is slower than the snails my nephew used to make me watch slither across the concrete for sport when he was younger. During those moments, you can find my colleagues and me staking out basement meeting rooms or the Senate subway while chasing and confirming scoops, monitoring the news cycle and waiting to interview lawmakers about their policy priorities.

Other times, the fire hose of breaking news is so unrelenting that it’s hard to know if you’re coming and going, and you’re unsure how you’re going to make time to file all the intel you’ve gathered by the deadline.

At all times, it’s the privilege of a lifetime, though. Every day is full of pinch-me moments that I try not to take for granted but too often do in pursuit of that one tidbit that will help you hold your elected officials accountable and understand how government works.

There’s always something going on (a hearing, a press conference, an improvised Q&A with a newsmaker), and you’re bound to see world leaders (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy), celebrities (Paris Hilton, Halle Berry), and even fashion icons (Diane von Furstenberg) around the Capitol complex.

Congress is the best beat in Washington because the press is integrated into the Hill DNA, unlike at the White House or the Supreme Court. You get to know the people you work with—from members to staff to Capitol Police officers to the workers at your favorite restaurants—which builds rapport that comes in handy when you have a tough question, are feeling hangry or can’t find your way to an exit at the end of the long night.

I hope that extraordinary access shines through in my reporting and enhances your reading experience and passion for democracy.

Can I find your work anywhere else?

Yes! I write a new weekly column in COURIER, a new-ish pro-democracy newsroom that’s publishing some awesome journalism and has landed an exclusive interview with President Biden and contributions from VIPs like Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

I’ll be sure to flag those pieces in the newsletter so you don’t miss any of my reporting.

I’m also open to exploring more opportunities to bring OUAH’s reporting and analysis to the masses. So if you’re an editor or booker and want to discuss a potential project, you can reach me at  michael@onceuponahill.com.

Who else works on Once Upon a Hill with you?

For now, I’m rolling solo with help from a small but mighty tribe of editors, strategists and consultants who provide specialized expertise and guidance when needed.

Why does Once Upon a Hill operate under a paid subscription business model?

Behind the newsletter, Once Upon a Hill is a business I launched to be sustainable enough to withstand the peaks and valleys of the media industry. Subscription fees enable me to pay freelancers, cover travel for reporting trips, pay my overhead expenses and pay myself an honorable income.

While OUAH costs a premium, I intentionally made sure it was accessible for small- to medium-sized businesses, one-person operations and other people who value deep political reporting and analysis. I also take pride in being an outlet that offers individual, gift and group subscriptions so you can choose the investment that best fits your needs. (Pro tip: If you do politics for work, ask your job to allow you to expense your Once Upon a Hill subscription.)

Is there a free version of the newsletter?

Yes. The free version will be published on Monday mornings and feature everything you need to know to track the upcoming week’s legislative agenda and national conversation.

The paid newsletter will focus on delivering fresh scoops, insightful interviews and sharp analysis for political professionals and obsessives who need to be wired into how official Washington works to create the change they want to see.

Paid subscribers will always get both Monday and Thursday editions.

Will you publish every week?

Yes. But I’ve also built several breaks into the year that usually coincide with congressional recesses. (I’ll always announce these breaks in advance.)

I’ll also take a small number of personal or sick days when I need them. Once Upon a Hill also observes most federal holidays.

Will you report on breaking news too?

I’ll prioritize the two weekly editions, but when news breaks that shifts the political landscape or sharply impacts the lives of people who live outside the Beltway, I’ll send special editions to add context and meaning to the headlines.

Will you be running ads or newsletter sponsorships?

Not at the moment. But based on reader feedback and pure economics, that could change in the future.

If you’d prefer an ad-free experience, upgrade to paid—the more revenue OUAH generates from premium subscribers, the less reliant it will be on advertising dollars.

I still have a question you didn’t answer here.

I’d love to hear it! Shoot me a note to michael@onceuponahill.com.

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People

Michael Jones is a Congress reporter covering Democratic politics, policy and campaigns. Prior to launching Once Upon a Hill, he was the author and founding editor of Supercreator—the premier politics newsletter for the creative class.