is considered among the most competitive political
news environments in the country and its newspaper
participants already form a crowded field. Now
the Texas capital press corps has a relatively
new addition to its ranks, but rather than compete
in print, Capitol Inside (www.capitolinside.com),
is testing whether political news online can be
a self-sustaining business.
Web site, edited and published by Mike Hailey,
is credited with breaking news ahead of the pack,
including a series of stories in 2003 about Democratic
state lawmakers' departures from Texas to prevent
a new congressional redistricting map from being
approved by majority Republicans.
site is read widely by Texas capital power players,
including lawmakers, lobbyists, journalists, state
government workers and others, said Jay Root,
capital bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
think it¹s really taken off," he said.
Web site includes much information that might
be of interest only to insiders and not to a general
audience. "I think you can get away with
stuff in an online newsletter that you can¹t
necessarily get away with in print," Root
Inside is available by subscription, and Hailey
won¹t reveal the current subscriber numbers.
But he said there are more Republican subscribers
than Democrats, a situation that is not surprising
since the governor¹s office and both branches
of the legislature are controlled by Republicans,
the first time in Texas since Reconstruction.
economic woes across the nation have led to a decline
in advertising revenue for many newspapers, the
economics of running a political news Web site are
still being worked through.
without the same production costs as a print product,
many consider Web sites less sensitive to national
economic downturns, particularly in a company
town like Austin where inside political news is
always sought after.
brings an insider¹s perspective to the site.
He was longtime reporter for Austin American-Statesman
and the Houston Post. He took a turn through the
revolving door into government when he signed
on as press secretary for the late Lt. Gov. Bob
Bullock (D), and then into partisan politics at
the communications office of the Texas Democratic
Party. He returned to journalism in 2003 when
founded Capitol Inside as a business venture.