It was a Washington story broken by The New York Times: Politico, the D.C.-based digital source of 24-hour political news, will take on more than 40 new employees – at least 20 on each the editorial and business sides – before September.
The expansion will be in the breadth of coverage offered to subscribers to Politico Pro, Politico’s premium service aimed at the site's “core readers,” who have a deeply rooted interest in policy — not to mention deep pockets. The service, which costs $8,500 per month for a five-person subscription, will add new verticals — on defense and finance — to the three originals: energy, health care and transportation. The new package will cover financial services and tax policy, wrote Editor-in-Chief John Harris, Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, and COO Kim Kingsley in a co-signed email to Politico’s staff on Sunday night.
Launched in 2011, Politico Pro was based on a “bet” that the Washington-focused political news provider’s “core readers would pay for access to intense, Politico-style coverage of Washington’s most important policy issues,” said the email, published in full on Politico.com, and signed “John, Jim, Kim.”
“We now have enough evidence--from impressive renewal rates on the three original policy verticals, rapidly growing revenue, and, above all, the first-rate journalism produced by Pro reporters on both the free and paid sides of the site--to declare this bet a winner,” it went on.
Reactions to the news have focused on the unique environment of Washington D.C., in which many professionals have the inclination and means to pay a premium for the news they need. According to The New York Times, VandeHei spoke of a “hunger for information” that exists there: “there’s just a large number of people who do stuff professionally who need that information,” he reportedly said.
According to paidContent’s Staci D. Kramer: “DC is known for being a high-end subscription mecca where people are willing to pay big dollars for specialized knowledge. Or, better put, enough execs and lobbyists are willing to pay to learn more about what’s going in the center of bureaucratic power and what it means for them to make it a serous business for many publications.”
“Getting people to pay small fees on a meaningful scale for local news is considerably harder in some respects than signing up enough four-figure subscribers for those endeavors. That doesn’t mean every expensive trade publication makes money or even survives but, if you can nail the formula, it’s lucrative," she wrote.