Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A new wave of newspapers?


Journalists everywhere will be watching with interest the launch today of The Politico, a start-up multi-media newspaper in Washington DC.

With newsrooms shrinking rapidly because of an industry descent, The Politico represents a new generation of news organizations whose product will be heavily showcased online.

The Politico was able to convince several dozen experienced journalists to jump ship and join the new venture, including a few heavy hitters from the Washington Post and Time.

If this experiment works, look for others to follow. This new model will be a place where reporters can jump to avoid the inevitable pink slips from major metropolitan papers. Here's the intro by the top editors:

It is an odd moment, to be sure, in the larger context of our profession. Layoffs are the norm at many news organizations. Buyouts and involuntary reassignments, accompanied by vague and ominous all-newsroom memos about more wrenching changes ahead, are the fashion at others. To be optimistic about the future in this climate of gloom is an act of will.

But it's not an irrational act. We believe that this moment of anxiety and upheaval in our business is also one of creative possibility. The publications best positioned to take advantage of this potential are no longer the general audience, mass-market news organizations that dominated the previous generations. The future, we are betting, belongs to those who organize themselves around specialized coverage and speak in fresh and revelatory ways to a specialized audience. Robert Allbritton, our publisher, has made this bet his own, and he plans to support our approach for the long haul.
This experiment will have some time to prove itself because it is being financed by Allbritton Communications, a chain of TV stations in the East and South.

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