Robert Allbritton’s grand scheme for local news, TBD, didn’t last. Oh, the site is still there, but it’s a ghost of the bold concept that challenged WashingtonPost.com at launch, hoping to mimic Allbritton Communications’ success with 24/7 politics site Politico.
The older sibling is still going strong, though — and Allbritton is betting big again that a major election-year expansion will pay off by increasing the value — and the number — of subscribers to expensive Politico Pro.
Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei told the New York Times the site is adding 40 employees in coming months: 20 journalists (reporters and editors) and 20 on the business side. He wants the new staff in place by September.
Based on its staff page, Politico has more than 250 employees; just under 50 already work for Politico Pro.
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Politico Pro launched in 2011, joining free Politico.com and the print edition available free in DC and NYC (the NYT says NYC access has expanded but it still sounds like a drop in the bucket) and by subscription. DC is known for being a high-end subscription mecca where people are willing to pay big dollars for specialized knowledge. Or, better put, enough execs and lobbyists are willing to pay to learn more about what’s going in the center of bureaucratic power and what it means for them to make it a serous business for many publications. Getting people to pay small fees on a meaningful scale for local news is considerably harder in some respects than signing up enough four-figure subscribers for those endeavors.