News publishers see subscription dollars in local politics

Who says politics doesn’t pay?

Those looking for ways to drum up consumer revenue might look at several news publishers’ efforts to build subscription products around politics. Since it first launched local state coverage in 2014, Politico Pro has expanded its head count there from 20 staffers to almost 50; this past August, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution launched Politically Georgia, a subscription newsletter and paywalled content offering focused on state elections, local economic news, health care and immigration, plus content licensed from PolitiFact and a legislation tracking tool that follows bills through Georgia’s state congress.

These join more long-standing efforts, including The Texas Tribune’s The Blast newsletter, which launched in 2016, and NC Insider, a newsletter run by the McClatchy-owned News & Observer.

By aiming squarely at lobbyists and local business leaders, these products deliver a loyal audience that’s willing to spend big bucks for a product of sufficient quality.

“Newspapers are uniquely positioned to go deep on politics,” said Robbie Kellman Baxter, the founder of Peninsula Strategies, a firm that advises publishers on consumer revenue strategies. “They need to understand that what’s driving purchase is really different.”

Politically Georgia stands out from this pack for charging a consumer-friendly price, while most other products’ prices are much higher. The Blast, for example, costs either $40 per month or $349 per year. Subscriptions to NC Insider start at $1,169 per year, with additional subscriptions running $399 per person. It also…

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