A 35-year-old Australian, [Ryan] Heath rises every morning at 4.30 to finish off the day’s Brussels Playbook, which in only a month and a half already goes out to almost 40,000 people. (The site itself received, in May, about 1.7m page views, from just over 700,000 unique visitors. The original Politico receives 7m monthly uniques, though they claim their relevance not by aggregate traffic but by the quality of their audience.) If Budoff Brown and Palmeri think a lot about their audience in Washington, and Kaminski and the tech reporters keep Europe more broadly in mind, Playbook speaks directly to Brussels. It promises to create Politico as the trusted house organ for a community of the displaced.
Though Heath’s Playbook roughly follows the original Mike Allen model from Washington, Heath has made it his own. He is aware that it is forging something new and, rather than fear the threat of absurdity, he allows it to revel in its own surrealism. Heath writes like he speaks, in flirtatious, conspiratorial tones about serious, substantive things. A recent item: “FINLAND – WELCOME TO THE LAND OF SOLUTIONS: That’s the official name of the Finnish government’s programme. Take that, all you Lands of Problems! Many journalists weren’t able to digest the new programme at the government’s regular sauna briefing Wednesday night (yes, people from outside Brussels, this is a real, proud tradition) because they were camped out waiting for Juncker and Tsipras to finish dining. So we bring them, and you, the full programme of the new government.” Another item seemed built around the basic desire to simply delight in the phrase, “Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, chair of the IMCO working group on the DSM.”
—Gideon Lewis-Kraus writing for The Guardian about Politico‘s new Brussels outfit. The brash, oft-gossipy has website transformed Washington D.C. journalism, but it remains to be seen whether even they can make E.U. politics sexy.
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