News & Politics

5 Questions for Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. (Photograph by M. Scott Mahaskey/courtesy Politico).

Politico announced Sunday night that Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman will take over its Playbook franchise next month as its founder, Mike Allen, plans to work his way out of the company to join a new venture with former Politico CEO Jim VandeHei.

Palmer, 34, and Sherman, 30, will be joined by Allen’s current Playbook lieutenant, Daniel Lippman, to produce Playbook, which will expand in format, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris told staff in a memo Sunday. It will “have a sleek, updated look and feel, with an improved reading experience and cool features like the ability to share entire sections on social media,” Harris wrote. “We’ll also be rolling out a new digital home and new social accounts for Playbook in the weeks to come, taking it from the inbox to anywhere else our readers want to consume it.”

Washingtonian caught up with Palmer and Sherman (whose wedding to Irene Jefferson Washingtonian featured back in February) for a quick phone call about their plans for the most famous e-mail newsletter of all time. This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.

What time do you get up?

Jake Sherman: 4-5 a.m.

Anna Palmer: Maybe a little later.

How are things going to work with Dan?

Anna Palmer: That’s one of the reasons it’s great that he’s staying on, after really being under Mike Allen’s–

Jake Sherman: Tutelage.

Anna Palmer: Tutelage. He has a lot of energy and a lot of continuity as we step into this role.

Jake Sherman: He knows the community really well.

How are you preparing to take over? Can you tell me more about your planned changes to the format? 

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Jake Sherman: We’ve spent the last few months preparing.

Anna Palmer: We want to break a lot of news. [The planned new web presence] Playbook Plus shows that we’re really thinking more about the 24-7 news cycle. We’ll continue to have the newsletter but if a scoop won’t hold…We all understand that news doesn’t hold the way that it did 10 years ago.

Jake Sherman: We’re not going to be afraid to send out news in bursts throughout the day.

Anna Palmer: There will be an updated version of the newsletter. 

Jake Sherman: We’re going to make it more shareable, embeddable. People in Washington screenshot it now to share it; they won’t have to screenshot it anymore.

You guys have tremendous wonk credentials: Will Playbook become even wonkier?

Jake Sherman: I think our goal is kind of pretty simple: We want to use Playbook, which we consider the best real estate in Washington journalism, to break news and give readers something they can’t get anywhere else.

Anna Palmer : We want to unpack power in the way that Mike has done, and we want to be the first read.

Is this the end of the Green Bay Packers’ run as a Playbook sub-beat? 

Jake Sherman: I’m a GW basketball diehard and a UConn basketball fan, so we’ll give the Colonials and the Huskies a little more space. I expect Jim VandeHei will always read Playbook so we’ll give him his Packers fix. 

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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