Politico's Next Stop Is Brussels, Sources Say
Eurocrats await the swarming insider approach that turned Washington media upside down.
The parent company of the Washington, D.C. politics website and newspaper Politico is on the verge of expansion to Europe, launching a news organization in Brussels on the same model it recently exported to New York, two sources familiar with the plans said.
The planned move would mark an ambitious step for Allbritton Communications, which publishes Politico and Capital New York, and has been selling the local television stations that were long the center of its business in favor of digital and print initiatives led by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, who is now CEO and president of the two publications.
Politico's model — high-velocity reporting, newsletters consumed by lobbyists and other insiders with money to spend, and a lucrative print business driven by the high value of influence in Washington — is in some ways a natural fit for Brussels, home to the European Parliament and European Commission. It will also depend on advertisers' willingness to spend money to influence officials who often report, ultimately, to decision-makers in London, Paris, Berlin, and other national capitals.
Politico elbowed its way into what had been seen as a crowded Capitol Hill market in 2007, and there are other English language news outlets in Brussels including Europolitics, a daily newspaper that has been publishing daily since its founding in Brussels in 1972. There are several digital publications too, like the independent website EUobserver and Euractiv, which is partially funded by the European Commission.
Perhaps the latest major attempt to capture the Eurocrat audience came from the Financial Times, the dominant broadsheet of EU politics and policy, which launched the English-language, EU-focused weekly newspaper European Voice in Brussels in 1995. But the FT sold the publication to the French company Selectcom in 2013. It is currently distributed free of charge to MEPs and top Commission officials.
The move to Brussels would be the second notable expansion for Allbritton. In September 2013, Politico ventured out of D.C. for the first time by acquiring Capital New York. Shortly after the move, it was announced that co-founder and Executive Editor Jim VandeHei would take over as president and CEO of Politico and Capital New York. Allbritton Communications Company has also sold off several of its TV properties within the past year.
Politico Chief Operating Officer Kim Kingsley did not immediately return a request for comment.
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European Voice was previously owned by The Economist. An earlier version of this item misstated the name of the publication's previous owner.