The new online venture of the traditional media, The Politico, starts publishing in a few weeks. With a singular focus on national politics, you don't have to wonder who the target audience for its publishers is: you.
The phenomenal growth of political blogs over the last five years is undoubtedly causing visions of dollar signs to dance in the heads of publishers like Robert Albritton, financier of The Politico.
Mr. Allbritton also said he has no political agenda and is in the business because it could be profitable; if Google or some other entity eventually wanted to buy it, he said, "that would be great," but that it is not part of his business plan. (He had briefly considered buying The Hill last year, but declined; the asking price was a reported $40 million.)...
He predicted that The Politico would start turning a profit in less than five years, from advertising in all of its incarnations — on the Web, with its own television program and in a limited print edition, with 30,000 copies three days a week while Congress is in session and one day a week when Congress is in recess. The Politico will be free for readers, both online and in print.
Albritton is gambling on what might be a shaky bet: he'll get enough eyeballs to make the venture a go. What's risky in this? To me it seems like he's betting that the medium trumps the message. By hiring veteran Washington political reporters like Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris to lead the site, Albritton is betting that the beltway sources will follow, that his site will be able to compete with the national desks of the WaPo and NYT.
But does the target audience--you--care whether you get the same Washington, D.C. perspective repeated in a new venue or on the national pages of a newspaper? Seems to me the reason the blogs have proliferated so is because we bring a different perspective than what D.C. insiders provide, a perspective that has been absent in the national debate for a long time--ours. Regular people's.
It will be interesting to watch The Politico, to see if they can extend the media revolution in any meaningful way. But it's going to take more than just a reporter's blog or two. After all, as Joe Klein is so effectively demonstrating, you can't just write the same old stuff in a different medium and expect the people to call it new.