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Former Wonkette-r Takes On Politico

Remember Alex Pareene? Our liver hates him.

Well, on the heels of “Politico TV” news (P.S. people: It’s not a done deal…details are still being worked out, we hear…) homeboy (now at Gawker) has some thoughts on the Politico and admits he’s been “skeptical from Day One.”

  • The Observer reports today that Politico is now turning into a TV show, which makes sense, because they are owned by a company that owns TV stations, but there’s still not any word on whether this venture is actually making any money, for anyone. Which we’re kinda curious about! Is it, as it appears to be, a big vanity project?

  • The Politico is now, apparently, launching a weekly television show, which will air on most of those Allbritton TV stations (though not in New York). It will be fast-paced and hard-hitting and EDGY.

      “When we think of Politico, we’re always talking about, well, it would be nice to build the ESPN of politics,” said Mr. VandeHei. “I think part of that would be treating politics like sports, blending in more stats, dusting down the numbers and getting inside the strategy.”

    Except ESPN makes money, doesn’t it? There isn’t, we’re told, a lot of advertising money, on this Internet, for pure political coverage. Denton describes political reporting as “toxic to advertisers.” And what money there is for it will dry up once this presidential election is done. HuffPo is raking it in, supposedly, but there’s a good reason why they’re expanding their lifestyle and health sections—and trying to be seen as less of a rabidly partisan left-wing niche political site.

  • And once the presidential thing is done, Politico will have to go back to what we thought it’d be in the first place—a wonkish, Roll Call-like little trade paper for Congress-watchers and DC insiders. In real newspapers, the political reporting is subsidized by the “fluff.” One cannot build a profitable brand on politics alone.

    So if anyone smarter than us at this money thing wants to take a stab at explaining to us the economics of Politico, we’re all ears.

Well, we’re not as skeptical as Pareene about Politico (although we’ve had our doubts at times), in part because, thanks to an impressive PR operation, a supportive and generous owner, fast-acting Internet peeps and reporters with direct relationships with Drudge and other traffic drivers, they’ve exceeded the expectations of most. Like any paper, they do some things very well and some things could stand a second look.

BUT…Pareene does bring up the $64,000 question: What about the profit?

We hear about some of the impressive (and, in some cases, impressively bloated) salaries and the final product — both online and in print — costs some serious dough to produce. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that the reporters travel all over the place on the Politico’s dime.

So, well, we asked: One high-up Politico source tells FishbowlDC that Politico is ahead of plan financially. Make of that what you will.

Of course, if, in fact, the Politico is just a vanity project, does that really matter? It certainly doesn’t to the journalists now employed. And, to be fair: There are lots of impressive journalism ventures that exist solely/largely due to a rich owner willing to fund journalism.

See the reactions of Gawker readers to Pareene’s post here and let us know your thoughts, readers…

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