NewsTrack: My Final Thoughts on Politico.com

After analyzing the content, reporting methods, and trends of Politico.com for an entire semester, here are my final 8 observations about the organization.

1. Politico’s content is largely written for already informed audiences and people such as lawmakers, lobbyists, and strategists, who are directly involved in the issues Politico covers.

Politico stays true to their mission statement, which acknowledges that they are directing their content toward an audience of politicians, lobbyists, and strategists. In some ways, creating news content for audiences who are already politically aware and up to date with the most current events undercuts the quality of Politico’s news coverage. Instead of providing background information on the various acts, deals, and programs executed by the federal government, Politico writers often assume the reader is familiar with those events, and they do not provide detailed explanations.

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2.  Politico frequently dissects the detailed aspects of a news story and breaks them up into several more focused articles instead of producing one overview article.

I discussed Politico’s strategy to produce several articles on one topic on my NewsTrack post about breaking news, and I used Michael Flynn’s resignation as President Trump’s national security advisor as an example. Politico often divides the details of one news story into several different articles. While I feel that this allows Politico to keep each article very focused, tight, and relatively concise, it also becomes difficult for readers to navigate through all the different articles to get the full story about one main event. It would be helpful if Politico created one overview article, and hyperlinked the other, more focused articles within that piece. They could also create an interactive, more visual way to navigate through the pieces pertaining to one news topic.

3. Politico operates their social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, similarly to newspaper outlets, by only tweeting with links to stories, going ‘live’ at major events, and posting a ‘Breaking News’ photo to inform readers about recent news.

Politico is very consistent in terms of their social media presence. The organization only produces Tweets with the links to articles included, uses one uniform photo to inform their readers of breaking news, utilizes quicker, more concise communication methods such as lists to craft informative social media posts, and shares live coverage through Facebook and Instagram live. These are all methods more traditional news outlets, such as newspapers, and other more recent and digitally-driven news platforms, such as BuzzFeed and Vice Media, engage in.

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4. The regional Politico branches, such as the Politico Europe Edition, Politico New York, and Politico Florida, are much less developed than the central Politico United States.

Politico.com’s United States coverage is much more extensive, in-depth and well-covered than some of the organization’s more localized news bureaus, due to the fact that Politico.com was first only intended to be a platform to report on general American politics, and later grew to include other regions.  Politico.com designates more of its resources to reporting on national news than it does for its regional sections, therefore it is more capable of producing better content than some of the other regions. While Politico New Jersey, Politico Europe, and Politico Florida do a relatively good job of covering the most important news stories in that region, Politico’s general United States coverage is of greater quality and scope.

5. Politico’s video content is not very imaginative – it consists of short video clips and soundbites of live events Politico is covering, such as White House press conferences featuring President Donald J. Trump.

While other news organizations have adopted interesting and innovative video reporting methods, Politico.com’s video content is solely video clips recorded from specific events. It is clear Politico designates few resources to producing engaging video content, as they do not create long-form video stories, which present the opportunity to tell a cohesive story using various video content Politico has accumulated over time. Conversely, Politico Playbook, an opinionated video series, produces much more engaging pieces that involve more creativity and effort than just video clips and sound bites of certain events.

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6. Politico Magazine frequently produces sponsor-generated content in the form of news articles focused on political issues.

One of Politico.com’s main revenue streams is through sponsored content. However, I found it interesting that while the advertisements for the sponsored content stories are displayed on the main Politico.com webpage, they are hosted on the Politico Magazine website. I also found it interesting that the sponsored content stories often contained some element of politics in order to be better camouflaged with Politico’s content. For example, an article appearing on Politico.com is sponsored content by JP Morgan called ‘It’s Time to Invest in the Infrastructure Communities Need Most,’ which essentially details the ways in which JP Morgan is currently donating small infrastructure investments to the city of Detroit, Michigan.

7. The way the website categorizes news stories into different sections makes the website more organized and easier to navigate for readers who are only concerned with a specific element of politics.  

Politico organizes its coverage into topics such as ‘Congress,’ ‘White House,’ and ‘The Agenda.’ This serves as a way to organize the website’s content while making it easy for readers to navigate the website and find the stories they are looking for. While this is an effective technique, it would have been better if Politico used additional categorizations for which to organize their various articles. The sections the website currently has are all relative to American politics, yet they could be more specific with sections called ‘Education,’ ‘Immigration,’ ‘The Environment,’ and more.

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8. Politico’s editorial coverage is very thorough, easy to follow, written in a consistent format, and their multimedia content, through comics and photo galleries, is very visually appealing.

There is a reason Politico.com is one of the most popular destinations for news on current American political affairs. In general, the content available on Politico.com is clear, informative, and complete. The articles provide adequate information to understand the main premises of an event, but Politico.com provides numerous opportunities to read other articles and gain a deeper understanding of a specific topic. Over the years, as a news outlet essentially serving the political elite on Capitol Hill, Politico has established important relationships with key sources for which they rely on to provide comments on their stories. Politico covers a wide variety of topics in politics, making it a convenient destination to learn about various current events taking place all over the world. The quality of the coverage, scope, credible sources, and exclusive insights Politico.com provides makes it one of the most reliable destinations for accurate, credible news on American politics.

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