Politicker Out

Political blog network shutters all but two sites

The Politico’s Michael Calderone brings the news that the battered Politicker network of sites is abandoning its last remnants outside the New York metro area, and shuttering its network.

Back in the site’s heady, mid-Presidential campaign days, I had the chance to spend a testosterone-laden night with a few of the boys (at the time, only two of the site’s twenty reporters were women) who ran the bloggy state-based political news network:

… Just after Guiliani wrapped up his barnburner of a convention speech, Danny Reiter, Politcker’s Maryland correspondent, turned his computer screen to flash Jamie Klatell, his editor, a Los Angeles Times write-up of the ex-mayor’s speech.

Klatell, thirty-two, started to read and paraphrase in a mock stentorian voice. “Rudy Giuliani stood before the convention…” He let up.

“Pathetic,” he said. And then he pretended to masturbate over his keyboard.

It was a fun, earnest bunch, to be sure, and one that was quite confident of a future filled with rapid growth and booming traffic, funded with steady revenues from ads targeted to politically sophisticated readers (lobbyists, legislators, political professionals) who would find Politicker’s obsessive state-by-state, minute-by-minute micro-coverage a must-read. They’d just lured an associate publisher away from Politico to implement the ad strategy, an indicator of ascendancy which drew admiring attention from The Wall Street Journal.

Things obviously didn’t work out, which is a shame not only for the many young journalists who took a flyer on the very new, and very orange, outlet, but for anyone who hoped that Politicker might mature into a serious journalistic outlet that could fill gaps in statehouse coverage. Just this month, Governing magazine, the trade magazine of those that rule, shined a hopeful spotlight on the effort. “Perhaps the most-watched experiment,” Rob Gurwitt wrote in a solid piece on the decline—and hoped for Web rebirth—of statehouse coverage, “is Politicker.”

He quoted James Pindell, Politicker’s national managing editor:

“What everyone is trying to figure out is, are we in a moment of pure transition on the way to figuring out the model and regaining the glory days of statehouse and political coverage … or are we at the beginning of the end? Of course, people will continue to cover state government, but the question is, Who? And how many? And how good will they be?”

Now we know one thing: Whoever they are, they won’t be from Politicker.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.