Politico Launches A New Print Magazine (And You Can Thank Its Online Paywall)

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For further evidence that politics produces strange bedfellows, consider the journalistic anomaly that is Politico, the flourishing political news entity that has not only managed to maintain a fruitful marriage between digital and print, but is also quietly flouting the ever-polarizing paywall argument.

On Tuesday, the Arlington, Va., media company announced that Politico Pro, its paid subscription service, reached a landmark 1,000 subscribing organizations, with 7,000 professionals now using it -- not too shabby considering the service was launched only two years ago. Politico also said Pro has exceeded all of its revenue goals while maintaining a 96 percent renewal rate, and the free site remains a popular destination for more general-interest policy news.  

The paid service, which offers insider-friendly, sector-specific coverage and exclusive, detailed briefings, is a kind of AP for policy wonks, including members of Congress and, according to Politico, “the vast majority of the country’s top lobbyists and lobbying firms.” (Read: deep-pocketed news junkies.) Pro provides rapid-fire insider news on policy-based topics such as energy, health care and transportation. Last year, the service expanded to include two new verticals: the military and financial sector.

In a statement Tuesday, Roy Schwartz, Politico’s chief revenue officer, said the aim of the service has always been to stay ahead of the curve and dominate coverage of the most important policy areas. “We are thrilled with how quickly Pro became the essential news source for thousands of policy professionals working at the country’s most influential organizations,” Schwartz said.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Politico joins news originations such as the New York Times (NYSE:NYT) and Gannett Co. (NYSE:GCI) in touting their ability to get users to pay for content. In an unusual move, however, the company is using the success of its subscription service to double up its commitment to print. Politico Pro this month is also launching a quarterly policy magazine, which the company said will balance the service’s “high-velocity reporting” with more in-depth coverage of the goings on on Capitol Hill.

The free magazine launches on March 22 and will be delivered to the White House, members of Congress and all federal agencies -- in addition to being distributed to Washington-area newspaper boxes and Starbucks coffee shops. The free distribution will give nonsubscribers a chance to sample Pro’s content.

The magazine, like Politico’s daily newspaper, will have a circulation of nearly 40,000. Although Politico is generally thought of as an online news outlet -- at least to folks outside Washington -- print has always been part of its business plan. The company launched its newspaper and website simultaneously in 2007.

Exactly what the new magazine will look like is still a mystery: A spokesperson for Politico told IBTimes that the cover design is still being finalized. We’ll be keeping our eye out.

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