At Politico, the vegetables pay the bills
Former Politico reporter Steve Friess says the thesis that The Washington Post should be more like Politico is "wobbly":
More than being fundamentally different, though, the suggestion that Politico is so profitable that it could [conceivably] support the breadth and depth of the expensive journalism the Post does is absurd. Repeatedly in my time at Politico, we were told that the serious money didn’t start raining in until about two years ago with the launch of the hyper-niche-y and often overlooked portion of the site known as Politico Pro. Pro offers verticals that focus intensely on such areas as health care, energy or technology for subscribers — typically lawmakers, lobbyists, corporations and activists — who pay thousands of dollars for inside intel. A fraction of what is produced for Pro ever crosses the transom to the main site.
In other words, the really popular parts of Politico may break even but they are the dessert that established the brand. The vegetables, served to those hankering for a very particular form of nutrition, pays the bills. Had Post owner Don Graham funded John Harris and Jim VandeHei’s vision for Politico in 2006 when he had the chance, his family might co-own an increasingly valuable media asset. But unless the Post stopped being the Post and actually became Politico, it wouldn’t have had any serious bearing on the Post’s current circumstances.