McClatchy is taking the 2020 presidential race seriously, and the publisher wants to make its mark with local coverage. To prove it, McClatchy has created a standalone subscription product, Impact2020, for political obsessives who want to examine the Democratic candidates, issues of the day, and the latest political news in a whole new way.
Launched in November exactly one year before the election, Impact2020 (Powered by McClatchy DC) curates election coverage across McClatchys 30 newsrooms located in 14 states across the U.S. with reporters and editors in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas, among others. White House correspondents will also contribute to the coverage.
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Subscribers to Impact2020 get unlimited access to exclusive content, videos, podcasts, newsletters and more. An annual subscription is available for $50 for the first year and is automatically renewable at $124.99 in subsequent years. Subscribers can also sign up through Google, starting at $1.99 a month. There is not a free trial, but there are a few no-cost options: a free, election-focused daily newsletter where readers can get a sense of the content, breaking news alerts for major national and international news, and a mobile app for McClatchys Washington Bureau.
“McClatchy is better positioned than any single news organization to tell the real story about voter sentiment,” said Kristin Roberts, formerly of Politico and now Vice President, News at McClatchy, at the product launch. “It is a story the polls fail to capture. It is the story that parachute journalists from national media will likely overlook. It is the story of how the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination and the presidency will be won and lost.”
Since its launch two months ago, the subscription- and ad-supported site has produced dozens of stories in a variety of categories including White House, Politics, Nation/World, Justice, Congress, Policy, Political Cartoons and Opinion. The content is very visual, varied and robust, but the pre-roll video ads and banner ads are distracting.
Here is a peek at yesterdays headline.
In their November announcement, McClatchy said the election coverage subscribers are getting will be different than what they are used to. Much of it will be drawn from its own journalists, but McClatchy will also curate stories from other reputable local news sources.
One of the key strategies driving McClatchy’s coverage will be reporting the campaign through the prism of electability, which represents a radical departure from traditional presidential election reporting. Story selection will focus on key voter groups, among them rural Obama/Trump voters and suburban Romney/Clinton voters, as well as voter groups identified by McClatchy’s political team and campaign insiders as critical to a winning coalition, the announcement said. The 2020 coverage plan will dive deeply into candidate policy positions as well as strategies aimed at putting those coalitions together; it’s a strategy that will be driven by insight on the ground about voter sentiment rather than polls or the story of the day out of Washington.
Roberts clarified where their focus will lie in the months ahead.
“We’ll refrain from chasing the daily tweet or the latest poll,” said Roberts. “Our commitment is to pursue stories that, during the primary, concentrate on examining the coalition a Democrat might need to defeat President Trump, and during the general election, examine the coalition-building on both sides,” said Roberts. “This concentrated effort will help differentiate McClatchy’s news reporting over the next 12 months from other media outlets covering the campaigns.”
Setting our own politics aside, this subscription product looks like a vehicle for McClatchy to show voters what it will take to beat Republican President Donald Trump. Their announcement makes it clear that the focus is on the candidates policies but, more so, what will make each candidate electable. We are speculating, but the basic premise seems biased and, therefore, flawed. The purpose of journalism is to provide a check and balance system for democracy – and candidates on both sides of the aisle. This is anything but check-and-balance. This seems like a rallying cry for the Democrats to boot Trump out of office. We support the development of innovative subscription products, but this one appears to have a fatal flaw.