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Politico's Business Model

5:14 PM, Feb 17, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Gabriel Sherman has a piece in the new issue of TNR examining the early success of the Politico as a business and a journalistic enterprise. There are a few bits that stick out from the piece, among them the odd claim, made repeatedly by the author, that Politico only produces small stories that "will make prime time." The paper may not have jeopardized national security by exposing wiretap programs or CIA black sites, but neither has it been incapable of serious reporting -- the Politico produced plenty of stories during the campaign on policy, religion, race, and all the other things that don't really matter too much to the daily news cycle. Sherman also talks about Politico reporters getting burned out and leaving. He says more than a dozen staffers have left since the paper first launched and that the pace of operations raises questions about sustainability. People I talk to at Politico seem to like working there fine and there have been zero big name departures.

The condescension peaks with this quote from Bill Keller:

The Times' Bill Keller dismisses Politico's scooplets as an insubstantial foundation on which to build a sustainable news organization. "If you hadn't reminded me, I couldn't have told you who broke the seven houses and the six-figure wardrobe budget. ... Politico has focused on an inside game. I'm not sure if it translates to an outside game. I'm not sure how they get scale, and, if they don't, I'm not sure what the business model is."

Exit question: which newspaper's business model consists of handouts from a shady Mexican oligarch, a tapped-out credit line, and a new mortgage on their office space. Hint: It's not Politico.