LA Times tries a daily politics newsletter


One of fired publisher Austin Beutner's initiatives at the Los Angeles was to create email newsletters fed by the journalists and try to sell sponsorships. The model for this in the journalism realm is probably Politico's Playbook, shepherded by Mike Allen, with a huge audience and big-bucks sponsors. Today's email, for instance, was "presented by Qualcomm." Comcast sponsored last week's Playbooks.

Today's initial Essential Politics from the LAT doesn't appear to have a sponsor yet, and doesn't offer anything close to the lengthy roundup of politics news, chatter and social items that Allen's Playbook does. The new newsletter so far is mostly an aggregation of LA Times links with some narrative tying them together. Maybe that will change, since having to rely on Times coverage is the weak spot of LAT newsletters. The Times doesn't have enough reporters on the beat to be comprehensive in the politics arena every day — it's a good start though. The most useful and popular products for politics and news junkies, like Playbook and Jack Kavanaugh's California-oriented Rough and Tumble, curate news from many sources the way blogs do.

As of today, the LAT signup page offers 24 newsletters, from the Essential California morning email from Shelby Grad and Alice Walton to Jonathan Gold's weekly Counter Intelligence and a daily sports email. Essential California tries to get around the completeness issue by putting in links to other media outlets and blogs, including occasionally LA Observed. That seems to be working. I know the editors are happy with the numbers on Essential California, which Walton says (on Twitter) has about 95,000 subscribers. Within the Times newsroom, a special desk has been created to help produce and promote the newsletters.

Here's the pitch on Essential Politics from Christina Bellantoni, the paper's new assistant managing editor for politics:

The old, automated Los Angeles Times politics newsletter is a thing of the past.

Instead we'll use the new Essential Politics to highlight our team's most engaging stories, offer some fresh reporting from the campaign trail, detail what's happening with the people who make up California's political universe and showcase tidbits you may have missed the first time around.

You're busy, and there are lot of political newsletters from which to choose. Our aim is to be good enough to be considered a must-read. You can help us to that end by sharing your feedback on what you want most.

For now, Monday through Thursday this space will deliver essential (get it?) headlines with a little narrative from me and other members of our team in California. (Get to know everyone here.)

On Fridays, Washington bureau chief David Lauter will deliver a late-afternoon version from our team in D.C. and on the campaign trail with the week's best enterprise reporting and other great long reads to take you into the weekend.

She also announces a new politics page on LATimes.com to serve as a hub for political stories. Anything to help visitors to the site make sense of the organization has to help.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Politics stories on LA Observed:
Doug Jeffe: a remembrance
Politicians, pay your bill
Elizabeth Warren at the Alex Theatre
Rats, demon cats and politicians from LA to Washington
John C. Reilly and Jackie Goldberg
The death of Lyndon LaRouche and lessons unlearned
Green New Deal
Madeleine Albright