Excellent Journalists Start Website. Heard That One Before?

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It’s a question as old as time for scribes who notice the business climate. How do you know it’s a bubble? When the money works its way all the way down to the journalists. During Bubble 1.0, it was Salon and Inside (disclosure: I wrote one piece for Salon way back in 1999 and was on retainer at Inside.com during its brief existence). Now, all eyes are on The Politico, a political news service set to launch later this month. The NYT’s Katharine Seelye looks at the prospects for the new site, invokes the ghost of Inside, and gets to the core of why fellow journalists are covering the launch so closely: At a time of contracting newsrooms, The Politico is one outlet that is actually hiring journalists — and at good salaries.
Although Seelye is kind enough not to use the word “synergy” in the report, that’s clearly what The Politico’s backers are hoping for. Journalists will appear on a regional cable news service, some CBS News programs, and a local all-news radio station. “Unlike many old-school newspapers, The Politico is encouraging its reporters to promote their work elsewhere.” One reporter who came to The Politico from Time will continue to write for Time, and another columnist’s work will be syndicated in various newspapers. As Seelye walks through The Politico’s plans and prospects, she may remind oldtimers of another long-gone once-ambitious web strategy, Time Inc.’s Pathfinder (the site is still there, but it’s just a navigational tool). The Politico may turn out to be great — it has certainly invested in some top-quality people and getting this up at the beginning of a presidential election cycle is fine timing — but also check off the return of yet another Bubble 1.0 business idea.
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Leo Klein

The horror of "Pathfinder" was that they took a perfectly good brand, in this case "Time Magazine", and repackaged it into something absolutely no one had ever heard of.

Of course, this was back in the day when the web was so "new" that everything you put on it had to be re-thought, repackaged and given a completely new name. Otherwise, how could you illustrate the incredible break with the past?

I remember sitting through a presentation by one of the consultants for this at ITP in New York. He was almost giddy at the choice of names and the logic that made it necessary.

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