As POLITICO Branches Out in Print, Harper’s Enters the Mobile World

politico_01In a somewhat counterintuitive twist, POLITICO, which has budded into an authority on Washington-based politics since its digital inception in 2007, has launched a print magazine.

And in contrast, a much older high culture, arts and trends magazine (the second-oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S.) — Harper’s Magazine — has finally entered the mobile arena with an iOS app.

POLITICO Magazine isn’t the organization’s first dabbling into print — it publishes a decent-sized daily newspaper on Capitol Hill happenings (but that can also be read online). Still, the mag, which will be published six times a year, promises to fulfill a different need.

Editor Susan B. Glasser cites a need for contextual, deeply-reported stories as the organization’s reasoning for incurring the cost and time necessary to produce a print product.

During a time when increasingly more online-only startups are popping up to provide access to longer, reported stories (The Big Roundtable, Matter, The New New South, etc.), POLITICO seems to be reverting to an old model in order to help “fill a dangerous vacuum in the rapidly transitioning world of journalism,” as they call it — they say the perpetual news cycle and speed at which reporters have to get the story out keeps them from holding Washington’s elite accountable enough. Profiles and longform are the name of the game in POLITICO’s newest product, though they’re still going to offer the articles online, as well as use the digital tools they’re most known for — punchy blogs, real-time updates and smart video usage — to accompany and beef up their print articles. I just wonder, why even bother with print anymore when the bulk of their success has been online?

Harpers-Mag-12-13To shift gears, Harper’s has finally decided to join us in the 21st century with its app for mobile devices. Apple users are good to go, but the Android version should be due out soon. All you have to do is buy a subscription, and you can read the magazine via the iOS app. The magazine has certainly come a long way from the “I never found e-mail exciting” column by President and Publisher John MacArthur, which raised some eyebrows back in 2010, and even since Harper’s became available to read on the iPad three years ago.

Given the stark differences between these two publishers — one predominantly web-based and aggressively forward-thinking and the other hesitant to abandon its old-fashioned roots — their recent developments are difficult to compare. They both have clout within their genres, so it could be that no matter what they do, they’ll continue to be successful as long as the substance of the reporting and writing doesn’t falter. Thoughts?