Nieman Foundation at Harvard
What do we want? Unbiased reporting! When do we want it? During protests!
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July 11, 2016, 11:53 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   July 11, 2016

New names appeared Monday on Politico’s main Playbook newsletter, after more than nine years of Mike Allen: senior correspondents Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, with reporter Daniel Lippman. Politico CEO Jim VandeHei, Allen, and several other Politico higher ups are leaving to start their own media venture (details still TBA).

politico-newsletterFor the most part, the new Playbook looks the same as the old — bolded sections, blocks of text, sponsorships squeezed in between news bites — but the small facelift points towards Politico’s bigger ambitions for the popular newsletter and provides a blueprint for the rest of its fleet of tipsheets, which now extends to statehouses and to Europe. The newsletter is better formatted for smartphones. It has (gasp) color images now. There are social share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

In September, the revamped Playbook will also get a revamped online home, where its new authors can post updates, according to Digiday (a natural progression for many other successful email newsletters). A “searchable database” of Playbook’s insider-y birthday/wedding/anniversary/event announcements is also in the works.

The flagship Playbook is estimated to take in around $3 million annually in sponsorships, with a weekly sponsorship costing as much as $60,000, according to The Washington Post, and an expanding readership can only help in this regard.

The type of material covered in the newsletter will be shifting, somewhat, Palmer and Sherman told Politico’s own Glenn Thrush on Monday. Today’s Playbook breaks the news that Paul Ryan will be speaking at the Republican National Convention, and includes an interview with Ryan himself.

“I think clearly we like to break news,” said Palmer, 34, a North Dakota native who broke into D.C. reporting covering K Street for Roll Call and the Legal Times. “I think Playbook is a great venue for that — we have designs on doing deeper-reported stories. I don’t think it will be every week that we’re writing these kinds of stories, but I think we plan on spending a lot of time doing kind of behind-the-scenes, how-Washington-works stories…”

“We’ve got to thread the needle,” added Palmer, about Playbook’s content mix — which will also include a greater number of exclusive newsmaker interviews.

The new writers represent an opportunity also to change the Playbook network. In an interview with New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg, Palmer emphasized that she and Sherman bring new sources to their reporting:

Ms. Palmer is interested in “the changing roles for women in Washington and women in politics — they’re chiefs of staff and leaders on the Hill, and Playbook needs to reflect that.” Mr. Sherman says the goal is “expanding the ecosystem of Playbook. … We’re of a generation that is coming up and is grabbing control of power in Washington … the 28- to 50-year-olds who are running the town now.

Politico itself has done quite the media push for the Playbook facelift, and its insiders/subscribers are certainly chattering.

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What do we want? Unbiased reporting! When do we want it? During protests!
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