Inside CNN Politics…

USA Today’s Rem Rieder has a deep-ish dive into CNN Politics…

About a year ago, CNN blew up its digital politics operation, a wire service-type outfit that was not exactly high-profile, and embarked on creating a digital reporting powerhouse. To run the show, it brought in Rachel Smolkin, who had been a top editor at Politico, generally thought of as the leader in the space. It went on a hiring spree, poaching top journalists from such venues as The Washington Post,The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, not to mention about a dozen from Politico.

Today, CNN Politics has a roster of 40, almost all of them new to the operation. That’s twice as many as it had before, a refreshing example of major growth at a time of rampant cutbacks in the media world. Those high-profile recruits are posting topflight enterprise stories and classy video on the often surreal presidential campaign that is unfolding. And for five straight months CNN Politics has attracted more unique visitors than any of its competitors, according to comScore.

“It’s great to be #1,” says Ed O’Keefe, vice president of CNN Politics.

So why would a cable news operation, the pioneer in the field, make such an expensive plunge into the digital world?

“As an organization, a strategic imperative for us is a tremendous emphasis on digital,” says Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. “Our future lies heavily in digital.”

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