Oftentimes, journos blame “the internet” for the newspaper industry’s demise. But in truth, it’s not the internet that’s killing newspapers, it is competition. For the first time in their storied history, newspapers must actually compete on a global playing field for readers’ attention. The internet is the playing field, but it is the competition, driven by low barriers to entry and many, many players, that has undone their monopoly on information and the business model that underlies it.

It is in this brave new world that Politico was born. Yesterday, as I already detailed, the New Republic reported on their rise. Today emerged a very interesting internal memo (pdf):

THE POLITICO FORMULA: We explain how Washington really works, pull back the curtain on the palace intrigue of official Washington, and document who is trying to get and keep power, and how. Our stories are NECESSARY for political and government players, and FASCINATING to outsiders.

Wow! Now that’s what I call a clear statement of mission. How many news orgs can say they have a mission that is so clear and, moroever, compelling? But wait, there’s more…

A Politico story works THE POWER EQUATION:

-WHO is trying to GET or HOARD it?

-WHAT MEANS are they using and what OBSTACLES are they encountering?

-HOW are they doing, and how is this contest affecting, or reshaping the city, state, party, caucus, government body, industry, corporation or social set?

A Politico story pulls back the curtain and shows the reader something intriguing, surprising, and important BEHIND the straight news headline or data point.

Let me ask you this: Does your newspaper do the same? Do newspapers get beyond the straight news headline, does it really show you what’s happening beneath the surface, or do it editors hold back their analysis for fear of injecting “opinion” into the story?

Blandness is part of what newspapers are about. Printing and distribution costs associated with the physical newspaper served as pretty major barriers to entry. The result was the creation of monopolies and oligopolies in local communities across America and the globe. Straight news was both easier and less risky. Angry readers could scare off advertisers, and advertisers, then as now, were the lifeblood of the business

To Be Continued…