The market for political news has been growing over the past few years, methinks, and will continue to grow. Roll Call would've been best equipped to try to take advantage of this, but didn't. Politics is the newest national soap opera.
The Politico debuts tomorrow in print, online and on the air.
The newspaper will publish 30,000 copies to be distributed free of charge three days a week while Congress is in session, and one day a week during recess. The Web site, which also will be free, plans to be rich in video and is aimed at readers across the country.
"Will it be the only destination [for political news]? No, but there's no reason we can't be at the top of the list," Mr. VandeHei said.
Mr. VandeHei and Mr. Harris have persuaded an all-star cast to join them in a bet on the future of journalism. Since arriving at the Politico in November, the two have plucked Mike Allen from Time magazine, former Bloomberg News political writer Roger Simon and Ben Smith from the New York Daily News.
"There's no claim to the status quo as it existed," Mr. Harris said. "The urgent task is the same: defining what the future is for this business. This was an opportunity to start something from scratch, to hire people in pretty significant numbers and to define a journalistic product from the beginning."
The Politico will draw most of its advertising dollars from issue ads funded by interest groups targeting lawmakers. Robert Allbritton, chairman of the parent company, said he expects the venture to turn a profit in 18 to 24 months.
Mr. Morton said it will be interesting to see which Capitol Hill publication attracts more advertisers. "Are they just going to all start sharing ever-smaller pieces of a fairly static advertising environment?" he asked, noting that the continued prosperity of interest groups and lobbying firms is fortunate for political publications. "That's the part of advertising that's growing."
Roll Call and the Hill Newspaper did not respond to requests for comment.
And I bet there are plenty of potential ad dollars, if they do the site as well as Roll Call.
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