The Politico Model

Michael Wolff praises it:

Politico’s writers and editors do several hundred cable appearances a week. They are becoming a one-stop source for Washington news. Politico is like an old newswire, except that it is more specialized, and focused, and fastand it has faces. And, more important, it’s freeand, unlike the teeth-gnashing old-line news companies, it has no plans or desire to charge (it will benefit from other organizations’ charging, and, accordingly, undermine them). Politico is retailing the news to everyone else in the hopes that this publicity and public profile redound to its own position as the choicest destination for political news.
This has workedsort of. Politico puts its current traffic at 6.7 million unique visitors per month (down from a high of more than 11 million during the campaign), yet it still can’t support its staff of about 100 on the Internet’s low advertising rates (although, with its agenda-moving audience and its preponderance of advocacy advertisers, it manages to get a higher rate than most sites). But one effect of its Internet traffic and notoriety and the ensuing attention of cable news shows is that the original Allbritton idea for a Capitol Hill paperone that now largely reprints Internet contenthas become, with its special-interest-size circulation of 32,000, a major success. Internet cachet, in other words, has enabled a tabloid-size print version of Politico (also called Politico) to thrive and more than double the company’s revenueswhich, just about evenly split between Internet and newspaper, will, it appears, be more than $15 million in 2009meaning, according to C.E.O. Fred Ryan, that Politico, paying its staffers at nearly the level that The Washington Post pays (starting salaries for reporters at the Post are about $45,000 per year), has hit breakeven.

Gabriel Sherman isn't so sure.