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Beth Frerking’s take on Politico’s success April 17, 2009

Posted by Raquel in symposium.
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PANEL: Diverse Business Models in Online Journalism – Are We Trying Hard Enough?

Assistant Managing Editor of Politico.com Beth Frerking started her conversation by talking about politico.com.

“I think we’re an insider publication that attracts a larger outer audience,” she said.

Right now they receive 3 million unique visitors a month. During the campaign they were in the top 10 and top 20 newspaper websites in the country. Yet putting things into perspective, they’ve been online only two years.

Demographics are 70% male, 21+, broad age range because some people from Congress and Washington insiders. That’s only 10% of online readership 90% readership is from outside Washington. What’s interesting is that their demographics tend to be trend-making people.

They also have a relatively small print newspaper, with a circulation of 32,000, like a small-town newspaper.

There’s no doubt politic.com is trying hard enough to find a business model. Doubts whether their business model is applicable, advertising base in largely in DC. Politico’s case is an unusual hybrid publication because the newspaper side supports online operations.

The reason why they’re successful is “hard-hitting reporting, edgy writing, the most aggressive political coverage and we really believe in driving the conversation.”

Jeanne Cummings broke Sarah Palin’s wardrobe story, by looking at campaign finance reports, before anyone else. The fact is that these stories resonated with the people and said something about the candidates.

In terms of changes, one thing that politico has increased a lot is video, said Beth Frerking. They include clips of comedy night shows when they make political jokes.

Does politico do fluff? Sure they do, they have a section that follows Obama minute by minute. But she said they’ve done well because they’ve kept close to their mission. It’s just politics, not sports nor local governments. “Were going to cover national politics thoroughly.”

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