Capital New York has slightly altered the morning routine of the Erik Wemple Blog. Instead of rolling out of bed into the push-up position, we now pause a bit to check the daily compilation delivered by Capital Media Pro, the morning newsletter produced by the team of media reporters at the New York outlet.
The product is an easy-to-skim cheat sheet on the big stories and issues in the media world, with an accent, of course, on New York stuff. The summaries are strong and to-the-point, the writing is sweet and not too conversational, and there’s even enterprise, in the form of an interview with a media newsmaker. The Erik Wemple Blog is a pro at reading Capital Media Pro, which has come into our inbox free of charge since early December, when Capital New York beefed up its editorial offerings following its acquisition by Politico’s publisher.
Party’s over: Starting Feb. 11, the newsletter will convert to a subscription product, offered along with access to Capital New York’s premium media content and something called “real-time whiteboard alerts” on industry happenings. A pitch that landed in our inbox today put it this way: “PRO provides subscribers get comprehensive early-morning newsletters, real-time whiteboard alerts, and in-depth ‘PRO ONLY’ articles throughout the day all based on each users customization and top-of-mind issues.”
For that, companies pay between $2,500 and $7,500 per year (with the range dependent on the number of subscribers and whether the organization is a nonprofit, corporation, etc.). Get-in-early deals are available through Valentine’s Day. Capital New York is also offering premium content packages for New York City politics and for New York state politics.
When asked how many companies have signed up for the pay package, Capital New York Co-Editor Tom McGeveran says he doesn’t have numbers at this point. In any case, he says, “The vast majority of those transactions are going to take place immediately after the paywall goes up.” That’s quite logical.
But why so many thousands of dollars? Can’t Capital New York make this thing available for, like, 50 bucks and go for a non-premium audience? Nah, not now, says McGeveran: “There is a premium audience not being served in precisely the way it could be, and it makes sense to go after that first anyway.”
That audience, he says, is not just creators of content like newspapers, websites, video mills and television stations. It’s also, for example, the fashion and apparel industry, which likes to track the magazine industry, upon which it depends for promotion of its wares. There’s a massive PR industry in New York too, which is another target for Capital Media Pro.
In recent weeks, McGeveran & Co. have been busy considering what sort of story will slink behind the Capital New York paywall and what sort of story they’ll display for free on their Web site. Example: The story of Dylan Farrow’s New York Times open letter accusing Woody Allen, her adoptive father, of sex abuse. “It’s a very important story with big implications, and it’s definitely for an unpaid readership,” says McGeveran. “That’s an example of something you can’t see a COO at CNBC needing that story in their inboxes as soon as it happens.” On the other hand, the details of a New York Times earnings call — that writeup might get paywalled.
The delicious part of this experiment is that Capital New York is asking its competitors to pay for information that they themselves should be providing. Consider how this conversation could play out:
Media reporter: Boss, these folks at Capital New York do some great media reporting. Got $5K for a subscription?
Boss: Yeah, hey, let’s fund their journalism! Isn’t media reporting your job, bucko? Why aren’t they paying us?
With that dynamic in mind, the Erik Wemple Blog will cop to being too petrified to even ask for this service.
As for others, we asked around just a little bit. Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone: “Capital’s media newsletter has quickly become one of the first things I read every weekday — great early morning round-up of media news, original reporting and scoops. But no, I’m not going to subscribe to the premium product. The cost might work for large organizations or lobbying groups, but probably not for most reporters. Of course, I’ll still follow Capital reporters on Twitter and will keep reading what’s in front of the paywall.”
And Peter Lattman, media editor at the New York Times: “We haven’t yet decided whether we’re going to purchase a subscription. I enjoy their media coverage and find the morning newsletter useful.”