We started hiring people about three months ago, give or take, and it’s certainly picked up in the last month and will intensify even more between now and the end of the year. We’re looking for reporters who have expertise. But at the same time we’re looking for reporters who have the right metabolism, the right mindset, who have the right moves. I’m a big believer that if someone’s a great journalist and has all the right intangibles, you can put them in anywhere and they will be a success. There’s definitely going to be a couple of generalists we will bring in who we think can learn the material quickly enough and can write in a sophisticated understandable way.
The press release talks about “high-impact” and “high-velocity” reporting. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Hopefully, it’s what’s come to define Politico. It’s having reporters moving quick, moving with the news, and telling people something first. That’s very important. If you can be the first to tell someone what’s going to happen on a piece of legislation, or a spat that’s happening between Pelosi and Hoyer, or some dynamic that’s animating a given policy or political debate, that’s a good thing. Let’s face it, we live in an era of rapidity where things move with a real velocity, and I think technology affords us the ability to keep up with the pace of politics and to keep up with the demands of political and policy professionals. We’re looking to always be part of that.
Will Politico Pro be available on tablets and smart phones?
Yes. Our hope is that we will have iPad apps for all of these individual verticals in the spring.
You’ve said you want Politico to be the dominant outlet covering Washington. Do you think you’re there?
I think it’s certainly our long-term goal. Stepping back for a minute, I think there’s a great story taking place in Washington where you have a lot of big institutions with real household names—Don Graham at The Washington Post, Rupert Murdoch with The Wall Street Journal, Robert Allbritton with Politico, Bloomberg—all vying to be the dominant voice in Washington. I don’t know that there will be one dominant voice, but I don’t know that there will be many, many dominant voices. Our goal is to position Politico to be that dominant voice in covering Washington governance.
To do that, it takes money. We are a for-profit company; we’re not the Red Cross. We’re trying to figure out how you take great journalism and marry it to a great business model so to be able to become a robust news operation that hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, has a much bigger investigative team, can send people overseas to report on a war—to do the things that a robust Washington operation should do. It takes money. And we’re doing exceptionally well on advertising. It’s pretty well known that in the issue/advocacy market we’re a dominant number one. We’re gratified by that but we’d also like to create new revenue streams, and the new revenue stream that we’re targeting now is a subscription revenue stream. If we’re successful with this on top of the success we’ve had with advertising, then suddenly you have a business model that can really sustain a very, very robust journalism that goes above and beyond what we’re already doing.
So there are plans to expand Politico’s investigative team?
We do a fair amount of investigative reporting now. But it’s certainly something I would love to do a lot more of in the future. I do think there’s nothing more important we do as journalists than hold government accountable. And I think over time, as we become a profitable venture—and we are a profitable venture—we have almost a social obligation to do more and more of that. Thankfully there are a lot of people filling the void in investigative journalism in the not-for-profit realm. Whether it’s ProPublica or the Center for Public Integrity, there are resources being thrown at investigative reporting. I want for-profit companies to be throwing even more and more resources at investigative reporting. I certainly want Politico to do it.
Are you surprised by how much interest Politico attracts from outside the beltway?
I’m surprised by how quickly we’ve become as big as we are today. We always had big ambitions for Politico but things have certainly moved quickly. We are still a publication that is really obsessed with what’s happening in Washington. Our business model and our reporting model is very much built on being absolutely essential to political professionals, to government officials; they need to read us to do their job. If we do that, then we’re a success as a publication.