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Lots of businesses worry that one of their vulnerabilities is each night some of their best assets walk out the door.  Usually, they come back to work the next morning.  But a pair of the Washington Post's top political reporters have decoded to take the "Down" elevator and not return.  Mark Potts, at RecoveringJournalist, sees this development as a possible business strategy worth exploring.

The loss of the Post's John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei will be felt "keenly", according to the Post's executive editor Len Downie. Word that they may only be the first "rock star" political reporters to join the new Capitol Leader ("In Print. On the Web. On Your TV. Everywhere") can't make Downie feel comfortable either.  Nor should any other editor.

While bloggers in the political space have been making names for themselves, you can't ignore the best beat reporters and columnists just because they work for "old media.".  While their bylines may not be in peoples' Web bookmarks, their names are in the Rolodexes and contact lists of people who count: newsmakers, consultants, activists and, yes, even advertisers who want to reach the people whose trust these reporters have..

In Potts' post, he said, "This makes me wonder if there may be other, similar opportunities for deep, vertical startups in other subjects, based on hiring strong newspaper talent.  Maybe a great arts site in New York.  A Hollywood site in L.A."

Potts, cofounder of Backfence.com, a network of hyperlocal sites, says the hires by the Capitol Leader could be a "watershed fore strip-mining newspapers to start alternative Web news sites."

There's nothing new about raiding the competition.  But publishers now have to realize that it's not just the business side of their operation that's at risk to new media poachers with focus and money and founder's stock.

Source: Star WashPo Reporters Poached For 'Net Startup