Over the last four years, POLITICO has navigated some of journalism’s most difficult days by showing that money could be made from a free website with a niche – albeit one with a print sidekick that did a lot of the heavy ad-sales lifting.
Now, as Washington seems to be waking up to the renewed promise of subscription models, POLITICO is setting out to show that people who really need to know what’s going on in the corridors of policy-making power will pay for the privilege.
POLITICO Pro, the tech, energy and health care policy subscription service that POLITICO is launching Wednesday, is entering a competitive playing field now populated by longstanding trade publications, veteran subscription players like CQ and National Journal and well-funded newcomers like Bloomberg Government.
And it’s betting that it can do to them what POLITICO did to political journalism when it entered the scene four years ago.
“We’re faster,” said Tim Grieve, POLITICO Pro’s editor-in-chief. “We focus more on the inside game. I think our writing is sharper. I think we do not feel obligated to be the paper of record. We choose stories that we think are interesting and we tell those stories. POLITICO Pro is different from the other policy products out there in the same way that POLITICO is different from the other political publications out there.”
This week, [John] Harris and his Politico cofounder, former Post reporter Jim VandeHei, are launching their nichiest venture yet. It’s called Politico Pro. And while the name awkwardly suggests that the original product was some kind of amateur operation, it fits. “Pro” is a fateful step in Politico’s evolution, from a scrappy start-up initially dismissed as folly by the established Beltway media players into the most ambitious and arguably most important political news organization in Washington. Politico Pro is actually a collection of three news organizations, each devoted to covering the “politics behind policymaking,” as Harris and VandeHei put it, on health care, energy, and technology. Politico’s founders are betting that their rapid-fire, buzzy approach to news reporting can rev up the metabolism of the historically studious game of trade reporting and make in-depth looks at key policy fields an essential read. It’s a gamble, but one they’re willing to take in order to grow their brainchild and make the Politico enterprise more competitive beyond its traditional base of politics-and-campaigns coverage.