Can newsletters replace newspapers?

I have for years argued with friends that the only model which works for most online media is the newsletter model. Sites that rely on advertising ultimately must have mass. Newsletters succeed because people will pay money for access to information, and often to a certain personality. It’s the model that Andrew Sullivan made work for the last 15 years. But it was never a model that seemed capable of working for a broad newspaper, unless, of course, the newspaper decided to let people subscribe to specific bits of it. Anathema to most news organizations, because of their mission.

Politico seems poised to test whether it, as a politics-focused newsletter, can do what newspapers seem unwilling to do in local markets: get people to pay for local political information. We’ll see how it plays out. If it works, Politico may solve the problem of paying for on-the-ground local reporting, at least for politics.

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