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Industry News
Founded January 23, 2007; 17 years ago (2007-01-23) (as The Politico)
Key people
  • Goli Sheikholeslami (Chief Executive Officer)
  • Mark Dekan (Chief Operating Officer)
  • John Harris (editor-in-chief)
  • Politico (newspaper)
  • (website)
  • Politico Europe (newspaper)
  • Politico.EU (website)
  • (subscription service)
  • POLITICOPro.EU (Subscription service)
Owner Axel Springer SE
Number of employees
1100 as of January, 2024 (700+ in North America, 375 in Europe)

Politico (stylized in all caps), known originally as The Politico, is a Washington metropolitan area, U.S.-based politics-focused digital newspaper company. Founded by American banker and media executive Robert Allbritton in 2007, it covers politics and policy in the United States and internationally, with publications dedicated to politics in the U.S., European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, among others. Primarily providing distributed news, analysis and opinion online, it also produces printed newspapers, radio, and podcasts. Its coverage focuses on topics such as the federal government, lobbying and the media.

Ideologically, Politico's coverage has been described as centrist on American politics and Atlantist on international politics. however as of 2024 rates its media bias as Leans Left.

In 2021 it was acquired for reportedly over 1 billion USD by Axel Springer SE, a German news publisher and media company. Axel Springer is Europe's largest newspaper publisher and had previously acquired Business Insider. Its employees have to abide by but unlike employees of its German newspapers, the employees of Politico do not have to sign a written commitment to the company's principles.


Origins, style, and growth

Politico was founded in 2007 to focus on politics with fast-paced Internet reporting in granular detail, comparable to the sports analysis of SportsCenter or ESPN. John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei left The Washington Post to become Politico's editor-in-chief and executive editor, respectively. With the financial backing of Robert L. Allbritton, the pair launched the website on January 23, 2007. Their first hire was Mike Allen, a writer for Time, and Frederick J. Ryan Jr. served as its first president and chief executive officer. Martin Tolchin was another member of the editorial founding team.

From the beginning, journalists covering political campaigns for Politico carried a video camera to each assignment, and they were encouraged to promote their work elsewhere. By 2008, Politico received more than three million unique visits per month.

In September 2008, The New York Times reported that Politico would expand its operations following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, and that "after Election Day, [Politico] will add reporters, editors, Web engineers and other employees; expand circulation of its newspaper edition in Washington; and print more often." Between the 2008 and 2012 elections, Politico's staff more than tripled in size. Notable additions included two political commentators, Michael Kinsley and Joe Scarborough, as opinion writers.

In 2009, the web pages shortened their name from The Politico to more simply Politico. In 2011, Politico began to focus more on long-form journalism and news analysis. This shift in coverage received further support in June 2013 with the hiring of Susan Glasser to oversee "opinion from prominent outside voices" and "long-form storytelling". In September 2014, Glasser was tapped to serve as Politico's new editor, following the resignation of Richard Berke the previous month.

VandeHei was named Politico's new CEO in October 2013. Under his leadership, Politico continued to grow: in 2014 alone, it expanded revenues by 25%. By 2016, Politico had nearly 500 employees worldwide.

Amidst reports of tensions, VandeHei and Allen announced that they would leave Politico after the 2016 presidential election, but left far sooner. Allbritton, then Executive Chairman and owner, was named acting CEO in Vandehei's stead. Several months after their departure, Washingtonian Magazine reported that the relationship ultimately deteriorated during a series of events including VandeHei pushing Allbritton to sell the company, and Allbritton losing faith in VandeHei's abilities as a CEO.

Investment banker Patrick Steel served as CEO between 2017 and 2021. He departed the company in early 2021 after four years.

Goli Sheikholeslami, who had been the CEO of WNYC public radio, was announced as CEO by new owner Axel Springer in January 2022 and tasked with leading operations of both Politico and Politico Europe.

Dafna Linzer, who had been at MSNBC and NBC News, was named as the new executive editor in March 2022. She departed in 2023 after serving a year in the role.

Politico Playbook

On June 25, 2007, Mike Allen launched Playbook, a daily early-morning email newsletter. Within a few years, the newsletter had attained a large readership amongst members of the D.C. community. By 2016, over 100,000 people—including "insiders, outsiders, lobbyists and journalists, governors, senators, presidents and would-be presidents"—read Playbook daily. Multiple commentators credit Allen and Playbook with strongly influencing the substance and tone of the rest of the national political news cycle.

Daniel Lippman joined Politico in June 2014, in large part to assist Allen with Playbook. Upon Allen's departure in July 2016 to start Axios, Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman joined Lippman to assume Playbook-writing duties. In March 2017, Politico announced the creation of a second, mid-day edition of Playbook—entitled "Playbook Power Briefing"—written by the same people who authored the morning edition.

In 2017, a weekly sponsorship of Playbook cost between $50,000 and $60,000. After Palmer and Sherman left to found Punchbowl News, Politico announced a new team of Playbook authors in 2021, including Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri and Eugene Daniels. Mike Debonis, previously of the Washington Post, was hired as editor of Politico Playbook in 2022. In April, 2022, Palmeri left POLITICO after being moved off of Playbook.

Since its launch in 2007, POLITICO's Playbook franchise has become global and exists in 13 different locations. These newsletters bring readers inside the conversation that matters within influential political villages and global power centers, including Washington D.C., New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ottawa, Brussels, London, Paris, and, as of February 2024, Berlin. More than one million influential readers currently subscribe to these POLITICO Playbooks.

Politico Pro

Politico Pro, a B2B subscription service, launched in 2010. With roughly 300 reporters at its disposal, Politico Pro provides in-depth coverage of over a dozen major topic areas. The service charges subscribing businesses by licenses and topic area (verticals), with the costs in the high four figures to high six figures depending on the scope of the subscription. Despite the paywall in place, Politico Pro has a 93% subscription renewal rate, and it provides nearly half of Politico's overall revenue. Access to the, Politico Playbook, and its other newsletters remained free of charge.

Politico Magazine

The Politico Frontpage 2007-02-15
The Politico, February 15, 2007

In November 2013, Politico launched Politico Magazine (ISSN 2381-1595), which is published online and bimonthly in print. In contrast to Politico's focus on "politics and policy scoops" and breaking news, Politico Magazine focuses on "high-impact, magazine-style reporting", such as long-form journalism. The first editor of Politico Magazine was Susan Glasser, who came to the publication from Foreign Policy magazine.

After Glasser was promoted to become Politico's editor, Garrett Graff was named editor of the magazine. He was followed by Blake Hounshell (2016–18), and Stephen Heuser (2019–2022). In September, 2022, Elizabeth Ralph was named editor of POLITICO Magazine, now solely a digital publication.


In February 2020, Robert Allbritton, the then owner of Politico, launched Protocol, an online tech news site focused on the "people, power and politics of tech." The site focused on how to "arm decision-makers in tech, business and public policy" with important global technology news. It operated as a separate company and with separate business and editorial management than Politico. It was shut down at the end of 2022 after struggling to meet revenue goals.

State editions

In September 2013, Politico acquired the online news site Capital New York, which also operated separate departments covering Florida and New Jersey. In April 2015, Politico announced its intention to rebrand the state feeds with the Politico name (Politico Florida, Politico New Jersey, and Politico New York) to expand its coverage of state politics. In September 2018, Politico announced it would launch Politico California Pro.

Global expansion

In September 2014, Politico formed a joint venture with German publisher Axel Springer SE to launch its European edition, based in Brussels. In December 2014, the joint venture announced its acquisition of Development Institute International, a leading French events content provider, and European Voice, a European political newspaper, to be re-launched under the Politico brand. Politico Europe debuted in print on April 23, 2015., the publication's Brussels-based European operation, was formally launched in 2015. In early 2016, it had about 50 editorial employees and two dozen business employees. A third-party survey published at the time ranked as most widely read news organization among 249 Brussels "influencers" surveyed, although the same panel found it less influential than The Financial Times, BBC, and The Economist.

Stephen Brown, who was named editor-in-chief of Politico Europe in September 2019, died suddenly of a heart attack on March 18, 2021.

Jamil Anderlini, previously Asia Editor of the Financial Times, was named Editor-in-Chief of Politico Europe in July, 2021.

Focus on investigations

Under Glasser and successor Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico expanded its focus on investigating Washington policymakers, leading to multiple resignations. A series of stories by Sherman and Palmer in 2015 "helped break open the scandal that forced the resignation of Representative Aaron Schock of Illinois in 2015," according to the New York Times. Reporter Marianne Levine in 2017 "helped bring down Trump's Labor Secretary pick," Andy Puzder. Puzder withdrew his nomination after the story.

In September 2017, reporters Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond authored a "bombshell" investigation of how President Donald Trump's health secretary, Tom Price, was flying on charter jets paid for by taxpayers, according to the Washington Post. Price resigned after the stories.

The "indispensable" stories published by Politico under Budoff Brown in 2017 helped it "get its groove back," according to the Washingtonian's Andrew Beaujon.

Politico reporter Alex Thompson in February 2022 broke the "bombshell report" of how Eric Lander, President Joe Biden's science adviser, had been "demeaning" colleagues in the office, according to Endpoints News. Lander resigned after the story.


Politico acquired E&E News in December 2020 to expand its coverage of the energy and environmental sectors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Acquisition by Axel Springer

In October 2021, the large German publishing and media firm Axel Springer SE announced that it had completed the acquisition of Politico for over $1 billion. The closing took place in late October 2021. The new owners said they would add staff, and at some point, put the publication's news content behind a paywall.

Axel Springer's Chief Executive Mathias Döpfner said that Politico staff would need to adhere to Axel Springer's principles, including support for a united Europe, Israel's right to exist, advocate the transatlantic alliance between the United States of America and Europe and a free-market economy, and that staff who disagree with the principles "should not work for Axel Springer, very clearly". Axel Springer said that they would not require Politico employees to sign documents in support of a transatlantic alliance or Israel, though this policy is enforced at German newspaper Bild, another Axel Springer subsidiary.

Supreme Court leak

On May 2, 2022, Politico obtained and released a 98-page draft document indicating that the Supreme Court was poised to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Chief Justice John Roberts directed the Marshal of the Court to conduct an investigation into the source of the leak. The story became the most-trafficked in the publisher's history, with 11 million views by May 6. Politico's first tweet on the report gained more than triple the impressions it normally saw in an entire month on Twitter.

Distribution and content

Politico vending box DC
Vending box for the print edition of Politico on Washington DC's K Street

As of 2017, Politico claimed to average 26 million unique visitors a month to its American website, and more than 1.5 million unique visitors to its European site. Following the acquisition of the company by Axel Springer SE, Haaretz and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting reported that Politico would enforce a policy on employees requiring them to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

The print newspaper had a circulation of approximately 32,000 in 2009, distributed free in Washington, D.C., and Manhattan. The newspaper prints up to five issues a week while Congress is in session and sometimes publishes one issue a week when Congress is in recess. It carries advertising, including full-page ads from trade associations and a large help-wanted section listing Washington political jobs.


Multiple commentators have credited Politico's original organizational philosophy—namely, prioritizing scoops and publishing large numbers of stories—with forcing other, more-established publications to make a number of changes, such as increasing their pace of production and changing their tone. Other outlets, including Axios and Punchbowl News, were started by Politico employees.

Awards and recognition

Politico won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012, for Matt Wuerker's editorial cartoons. Politico also has won three George Polk Awards, the first in 2014 for Rania Abouzeid's investigation of the rise of the Islamic State, the second in 2019 for Helena Bottemiller Evich's investigation of the Trump administration's efforts to bury its climate change plans, and the third in 2020 for Diamond's investigation of political interference in the U.S. federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Politico (periódico) para niños

  • List of newspapers in Washington, D.C.
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