By Leena Rao
AOL is adding a twist to old-fashioned political journalism with the launch of its new political news and blog site, PoliticsDaily.com. The site, which will primarily focus on in-depth political commentary as opposed to breaking news, will only provide original content, from long-form analysis to blog posts on issues in the U.S. political landscape. Led by former New York Times Washington Correspondent, Melinda Henneberger, PoliticsDaily wants to tie the old media’s in-depth political analysis with a sustainable digital medium
PoliticsDaily is the brainchild of Martin Moe, senior vice president at AOL and is built under Bill Wilson’s new MediaGlow division, which is building new content brands distinct from AOL itself. MediaGlow, which recently launched topic directory Love.com, runs AOL News, Engadget and TMZ.com, among other properties. PoliticsDaily is part of the AOL News network, which received more than 27 million unique visitors in March, according to comScore stats. New York Times Digital by comparison had close to 46 million unique visitors in March.
PoliticsDaily has enlisted a “dream team” of experienced political journalists from both new and old media, including Walter Shapiro, former columnist for USA Today and former Washington bureau chief for Salon; Jill Lawrence, former national political correspondent for USA Today and columnist for the Associated Press; Carl Cannon, former Washington bureau chief for Reader’s Digest and White House correspondent for the National Journal and the Baltimore Sun; Lynn Sweet, blogger and Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times; and Patricia Murphy, founder of Citizen Jane Politics, a non-partisan website for women.
The site will include blogs such as “Woman Up,” a blog focused on political issues from a woman’s perspective; “The Daily FLOTUS,” a blog which focuses on First Lady Michelle Obama; and “The Cram,” a student-focused blog on political news.
Consumers are more frequently looking online news for political news, as we saw in the past presidential elections and during the current downturn in the economy. PoliticsDaily hopes to be a mainstream source of analysis and news and shuns the idea of being a news aggregator. While the all-original content includes both long-form articles and blog posts, the site will not be primarily focused on breaking political news—perhaps leaving the real-time, short-form news to other political news competitors like The Politico,The New York Times, The Huffington Post and the A.P.
The competition in the political news sphere is tough, especially online. PoliticsDaily will have to build a credible brand with its original content, going up against media organizations that have long been offering in-depth analysis, like the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. PoliticsDaily will also face some competition from The Politico, which incorporates blogs, breaking news, interactive multimedia features and in-depth reporting into one site. And while the New York Times and Washington Post are hemorrhaging money from their print publications, their in-depth political coverage and analysis on their websites is strong, deploying a wide array of multimedia, blogs and long form commentary.
News broadcasters sites also provide popular political coverage—CNN.com. MSNBC.com, and FoxNews were among the top five trafficked news sites following the election in November. Moe maintains that PoliticsDaily’s long-form magazine content will differentiate the site from The Politico and other real-time focused news sites.
Moe pledges that the differentiation between PoliticsDaily and the Huffington Post will be even more clear. Moe says that while the Huffington Post is largely a content aggregator, has a leftward bent, and doesn’t pay many of its bloggers, PoliticsDaily will be 100% original content from “experienced” paid writers, and will be “poly-partisan” with perspectives from the liberals, centrists and conservatives. Of course, with the financial backing of AOL, PoliticsDaily has the advantage of being able to pay all those editors and reporters. But if PoliticsDaily is supposed to be an online new magazine, why isn’t AOL’s sister subsidiary Time Inc. running it?