Political powerhouse Politico (www.politico.com) has become a master at scooping other news outlets for stories on the political scene.
Such prowess in reporting can easily cause frustration for the competition, which is why it is interesting to note that Politico-owner Robert Allbritton is making a gutsy move.
He already basically owns the political news coming from the streets and avenues of Washington D.C., and now he wants more.
Allbritton is preparing to launch a local-news site focusing on the D.C. metro area with a staff of approximately 50. That means he is taking a direct shot at what The Washington Post considers its bread and butter.
What’s better is that Politico is going to launch the site with former-Post Web site Executive Editor Jim Brady running the show.
Here is a link to the story, which was published Wednesday: Politico Owner Tries To Completely Kill The Washington Post
Obviously a lot of details couldn’t be gleamed from the above piece, but Politico ran a story about it Wednesday afternoon as well.
According to the article, this venture is no fly-by-night venture. Some serious thought has been put into it.
For example, it isn’t just Politico that is doing this. The parent company, Allbritton Communications Co., is doing this as a combination site with two television stations it owns, ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8. The new site, which has yet to be given a proper name, is going to cover local news for the Washington area and all three news outlets will have access to the content.
The new site tentatively planned to launch this spring.
In the Politico story, Brady said the content won’t be the same as The Washington Post’s Metro Section because the new venture is going to try to cover a wider-range of topics and utilize the great content members of the community are creating to supplement the reporting done by the Web site’s staffers.
Also, since NewsChannel 8 is a 24-hour local news channel, combining the content the station already churns out every day with the fanatical content a Web site staff of nearly 50 can cook up should be the recipe for success.
But how successful can a start-up Web site be right away without web traffic? Not very, but this new site already has that covered.
In an interview with Jim Brady posted Wednesday night on PaidContent.org, Brady said the Web site he was building for the new venture would become the only site for the two television stations as well.
Those two sites already have traffic, and the broadcasts the stations produce can easily promote the new site, Brady said.
“There’s no need for three local Web sites owned by the same company,” he said.
As for advertising dollars, Brady said they won’t be using a pay wall, though some premium features may be implemented later on. Instead, they are just going to pursue any revenue stream they can find, including taking a long, hard look at how mobile advertising can be profitable.
“You have to be as aggressive on the business side in exploring new advertising opportunities as you are on the editorial side of exploring new content strategies,” he said.
This doesn’t bode well for The Washington Post, even though Brady said he thinks “the Post is a competitor, but so is WTOP, WORC is a competitor and the City Paper is a competitor. Everybody is. I don’t think the wild success of this site will kill anybody else, however. It doesn’t have to be seen as a fight to the death.”
Allbritton’s whole concept and plan is very fascinating.
It is truly showing how new forms of distribution can challenge traditional media outlets.
A Web site is more nimble and can publish 24 hours per day, seven days a week and 365 days in year.
A newspaper can basically publish only once per day, excluding the online efforts most publications perform.
After all, they are in the business of a print product, not a digital product such as Politico is. Of course, Politico does publish a free newspaper every day Congress is in session and on Tuesdays when Congress is in recess, but the fact remains that Politico’s primary product is a purely digital format of news dissemination.
Politico has a lot going for it. It is a niche product that has positioned itself to be the authority on Washington D.C. politics. It launched in January 2007 and posted a profit for this year.
No other news outlet can touch them.
Politico’s staff has perfected the art of publishing early and often, which is why they beat the competition so badly.
Sure, staffers are known to burn out rather quickly because of the break-neck speed Politico operates at, but that is why The Washington Post should be kind of worried.
Politico is poised to attack, and it is fact that the news site isn’t tied down to a rigid print schedule. It can move and react with the news as it happens, and as it begins to provide solid coverage of events, its credibility grows, making it become the authority.
That’s how Politico succeeded. If the same formula is applied to a local-news site, it could equal disaster for The Washington Post.
The Washington Post needs to keep a close eye on this and all the while be preparing for a fight.
Of course, all news organizations, no matter how big or how small, need to pay attention to this as well.
Even small-town, weekly newspapers need to guard against an online competitor coming in and beating them on their own turf.
In Ellsworth, Kan., the publisher of the Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter, Linda Denning, has said one of her biggest competitors is someone in town with a blog.
Many rural publishers don’t think the Internet is worth focusing on because they have to worry about getting the weekly paper out with a limited staff; however, this could be their downfalls.
An online presence has to be established and protected. If not, one is just asking for an attack from a competitor.
In the Politico and Washington Post case, The Post had a presence and a competitor is still making an attack.
Just imagine how easy it would be to take over a news territory if there were no online defenses.
The online world of journalism has been growing for some time, but now it seems to be picking up speed.
Everyone needs to buckle up, hang on and pay attention.
This could be the start of a whole new era of online-only journalism that could change the landscape even as news outlets grapple with the fact that revenues are down, costs are up and everyone and their dogs seem to be writing up the obituary for print journalism.
Allbritton could be paving the way and developing the new business model journalism has been needing.