Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
As local news outlets shift to subscription, they wonder: What should Facebook’s role be?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 28, 2015, 11:46 a.m.

Politico plans to have operations in every U.S. state capital and many other world capitals within five years, according to an internal memo obtained by the Huffington Post.

The expansion plans hardly come as a surprise, as Politico earlier this year launched a Brussels-based European edition, created a handful of state editions of its Playbook newsletters, and rebranded Capital, which it bought in 2013, as Politico New York.

“With each passing month, we grow more confident our model can save journalism in state capitals and spread it in new countries,” cofounders Jim VandeHei and John Harris wrote in the memo.

Does journalism in state capitals need saving? The total number of newspaper reporters covering statehouses fell 35 percent between 2003 and 2014, according to a 2014 Pew study. That drop outpaced the 30 percent decline in overall newspaper staffing over that time. And the study found that of the reporters that do cover statehouses, only 47 percent covered them full-time.

In lieu of newspapers, a new crop of startups have popped up across the country to cover statehouses, some nonprofit, some ideological, some targeting capital insiders explicitly. Sites such as VTDigger, The Connecticut Mirror, and, most famously, The Texas Tribune now offer comprehensive statehouse coverage in their respective states. But these startups are unevenly distributed, with many state capitals seeing little or no new efforts to supplement declining old ones.

Politico chose to skip Texas in its initial state expansion plans, perhaps in deference to the Tribune’s eminence.

But Politico hasn’t shied away from competition in the past: Its 2007 launch was a direct attack on the traditional Washington journalism establishment. And its recently debuted products have also taken on direct competitors. Here in Massachusetts, the Politico Playbook newsletter goes up against established products such as the MASSterList newsletter and The Boston Globe’s Political Happy Hour newsletter.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
As local news outlets shift to subscription, they wonder: What should Facebook’s role be?
“Look, I know you got that Facebook comment, but it’s the vocal minority. There’s a silent majority who are actually paying for our work.”
The new folks in town are an untapped audience for local news (even if they don’t stay forever)
“I started to recognize the value of local news as a journalist, yet spent no time on it as a local resident of Washington, D.C.”
Nonprofit news organizations are becoming more diverse, but they still lag behind the communities they cover
More than half of all nonprofit outlets have either no people of color or “only a small percentage” within their ranks. The vast majority — more than two-thirds — do not have a single person of color in leadership at the executive level.