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Jun 20, 2016 4:13 PM

New leadership for Politico's influential Playbook

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) The website Politico appointed two reporters on Monday to replace Mike Allen at Playbook, which rapidly grew from a morning email to his bosses into a must-read newsletter for Washington power players and those who want to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Politico's Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman will take over the newsletter on July 11, Politico said. Daniel Lippman, who helps compile material for Allen, will continue.

Allen will remain at Politico to report on the election, then join one of the website's founders, Jim VandeHei, in launching a new media venture, details of which have not been disclosed.

The chatty newsletter is a combination of breaking news, story links, political gossip and birthday shout-outs to Washington insiders. It is delivered via email to more than 100,000 people each day in time for them to read after they wake up or are headed into work.

"It's the best real estate in political journalism," Palmer said.

Shortly after Politico's launch in 2007, tireless reporter Allen began sending a daily email to his bosses, VandeHei and John Harris, with story tips, links and things to watch out for that day. A third person, Howard Wolfson of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's communication staff, saw it and asked if he could get it each day, and word spread quickly to others in politics, media and business.

Story lengths were dictated by what could fit on the screen of a Blackberry, the hot technical tool of the day.

"It's the very definition of a viral product," Allen said. Playbook is delivered at no charge; people simply have to ask to be added to the mailing list.

Politico now has some 30 separate newsletters on different subject matters and on state news in New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and California. It sells advertising and sponsorships, and the Playbook name is used for a thriving series of conferences and special events.

Playbook has retained its Washington insider tone, but now more than 80 percent of its subscribers live outside the Beltway.

Monday's Playbook is typical. It begins with countdowns on how many days until the Republican and Democratic conventions, and Election Day. Links are included to stories about Clinton's strategy to attract young voters, and Wall Street opposition to Elizabeth Warren as a potential vice presidential choice. There's speculation about whether Clarence Thomas may look to leave the Supreme Court after the election, and news about the engagement of a congressional staffer and federal budget official.

"What I love about Playbook is that it brings Washington together at a time almost nothing else does," Allen said. "Republicans, Democrats, the press, the professional part of Washington the only place that we used to meet up before were at book parties."

Through Allen, Playbook has sought to retain a sense of community among its readers.

Allen gave Playbook a distinctive voice, which Palmer and Sherman hope to retain as they develop their own voices. Palmer, a North Dakota native, has worked at Politico since 2011 and covers lobbying. Sherman, from Connecticut, has been at the site since 2009 and covers the U.S. House.

They said they would like to make Playbook more active during the day on social media, and break more news as it happens instead of waiting until the next morning's newsletter.

Allen said his new venture wouldn't compete against Playbook, which he said he hoped continues to thrive.


Online: http://www.politico.com/playbook


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