editor-in-chief and co-founder, Politico
Harris steers the editorial strategy of a multi-media operation that has exploded onto a crowded Washington D.C. political news arena.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton recently named Politico among his favorite sites on the Web. How has this Washington D.C. start-up, that launched in early 2007 in a crowded political news field (read: the Washington Post, Washington Times, Roll Call, The Hill, etc.) catapult to roughly 3.5 million unique visitors and approximately 25 million page views per month?
â€śOur editorial model is based on seeking to dominate a nicheâ€”in our case, national politics and the workings of Washington,â€ť says co-founder and editor-in-chief John Harris. â€śThe reason we have been able to compete so vigorously in our niche is that we recruit and develop journalists to be franchise players â€¦ this is different than many publications, who in many ways treat journalists as commodities.â€ť Another of the brandâ€™s strengths, Harris says, is that the Web always has been at the core of its efforts, so it had a jump on traditional publishers that had to adapt to the Internet-fueled around-the-clock news cycle.
Harris co-launched Politico in January 2007 after he and political correspondent Jim VandeHei resigned from the Washington Post. They were convinced by Allbritton Communications owner Robert Allbritton to start a multi-media news operation with a heavy focus on online.
The site launched and, initially, the print publication was distributed three days a week. Today, 33,000 copies are distributed five days a week, mostly for free on Capitol Hill and around greater Washington, D.C. While the Web site carries a dramatically higher national audience, Harris says the print edition â€śremains a very vital platformâ€ť for readers and advertisers.
While Harris declined to comment on specific performance figures (Politico is owned by the Capitol News Companyâ€”a private venture), he says the brand achieved â€śrobust profitabilityâ€ť last year and that it aims for a 50-50 revenue breakdown in terms of print versus a combination of Web and e-commerce. â€śOur editorial costs have grown considerably as the publication has expanded, but our ad revenue has grown much more vigorously,â€ť he says.
VITAL STATS: Harris says Politico.com pulls in roughly 3.5 million unique visitors and approximately 25 million page views per month.