The New York Times Magazine’s mega-profile of star Politico reporter Mike Allen hit the Web this morning, around the same time an internal memo from Politico’s top dogs circulated announcing a slew of new hires at the site.Written by the Times’ Mark Leibovich, the profile focuses on Playbook, Allen’s influential daily email-column that reportedly brings in an estimated $780,000 per year in ad revenue for Politico. (Leibovich notes that Allen “could sell the franchise for a sum that could easily exceed seven figures.”)
The piece became a hot topic in media circles yesterday, partly thanks to fomer Politico reporter Michael Calderone Tweeting out a little teaser. And this morning, before The Times’ had even put the piece online, Allen himself scooped them by publishing some “exclusive” tidbits on, you guessed it, Playbook.
Allen’s e-mail tipsheet, Playbook, has become the principal early-morning document for an elite set of political and news-media thrivers and strivers. Playbook is an insider’s hodgepodge of predawn news, talking-point previews, scooplets, birthday greetings to people you’ve never heard of, random sightings (“spotted”) around town and inside jokes. It is, in essence, Allen’s morning distillation of the Nation’s Business in the form of a summer-camp newsletter.
Here are a few nuggets from the 8,100-word cover story about “The Man the White House Wakes Up To”:
- Allen, 45, is the last reporter White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer checks in with before he goes to bed at night and the first one he emails after waking up before dawn.
- He gets 2,000 emails a day and tries to respond to every one of them that’s addressed to him personally.
- He’s an observant Christian and attends a Bible study group. He’s a former an Eagle Scout who can still recite the Boy Scout Law. “I try to be a force for good,” he said.
- “Allen sends out Playbook using Microsoft Outlook to a private mailing list of 3,000. A few minutes later, an automatic blast goes out to another 25,000 readers who signed up to receive it. An additional 3,000 or so enter Playbook from Politico.com, which adds up to a rough universe of 30,000 interested drivers, passengers and eavesdroppers to the conversation.”
- Katie Couric reads Playbook in bed!
- Before the days of email, Allen would send news-tidbit faxes to his friends; before the days of fax machines, “he would drop off newspaper clips (or entire out-of-town papers) to his friends’ doorsteps.”
- He’s elusive about where he lives and most people who know him have never seen his home, perhaps because he is also “known as a legendary hoarder and pack rat.”
- Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei on marketing: “”If you want to move data or shape opinion … you market it through Mikey and Playbook, because those tens of thousands that matter most all read it and most feed it.”
- Allen’s father, Gary Allen, “was an icon of the far right in the 1960s and 1970s,” a John Birch Society affiliate who hated Communists and rock ‘n’ roll and wrote speeches for segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace.
If you have an hour to spare, it’s worth reading the piece in its entirety.
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