'Politico' Will Expand, Save Political Journalism As We Know ItWhen, back in April, we wondered what exactly political newspaper/website Politico was up to (and do they make money?) we said this: "once the presidential thing is done, Politico will have to go back to what we thought it'd be in the first place-a wonkish, Roll Call-like little trade paper for Congress-watchers and DC insiders." Because pure politics does not make money, and Politico has a lot of big salaries to pay. But Politico didn't listen! Once the election is over, The Times reports (from their new media desk!), Politico will expand! And then the Washington Post will copy them!
Politico (politico.com) is to announce on Monday that after Election Day, it will add reporters, editors, Web engineers and other employees; expand circulation of its newspaper edition in Washington; and print more often.
Hm. This piece does basically explain our earlier questions about their revenue: it is the Roll Call model, more or less. Roll Call is a little Washington DC paper that covers congress exclusively and very, very well. Its tiny audience is, you might imagine, incredibly influential, made up as it is of lobbyists, members of congress, and their staffs. So its print edition is profitable—as is, we assume, the print edition of Politico. But we're guessing Politico is still losing money on the web, where their vast national audience lives (until November 5, of course). But the thing about those specialty ads is that they pick up when a new Congress is in session, which means after the elections. There is still an air of vanity project about Politco—DC already supports two wonky Congressional papers, a third seems to be pushing it—and executives with owner Allbritton say only that the paper "has operated around the break-even point lately", but they seem to expect profits soon. Like maybe next January. Let's hope so, because they're adding 11 new reporters and editors! And if the congressional paper model doesn't quite cover it, they're also going to try being a sort of political ad network for struggling newspapers too! The Politico Network will provide political content to newspapers and then sell some of their online ad space, presumably at better rates than Google. "Politico hopes to aggregate political pages from multiple newspapers, sell them to advertisers, and return to the papers significantly more than they would receive from standard ad networks." More power to them, we say! It still seems like a losing proposition, but so do most forms of communication these days, right? And speaking of! The venerable Washington Post today launched something called "Political Browser." It is a webby internet aggregating thing. It links to political stories from across the entire internet, you see, even including blogs! It looks a bit like... Politico! (Also a bit like The Note, and Talking Points Memo, and 500 other things.) Political Browser executive editor Jim Brady says, "call it a 'cheat sheet for politics,'" just like you call all those other blogs and sites that provide the same basic function. So. Will this make the Post any money? No, of course not. But it may drive more traffic to their site, and it doesn't cost much to make a couple staffers blog a little more.