Politico Watch Has Moved!

Attention: Politico Watch has new home on JoshMellits.com.

My sincere apologies for the extended Politico Watch hiatus. The past month has been particularly busy, between graduating from Boston University and revamping the site. The political world has been buzzing during that time, from the shaping of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate field to the Anthony Weiner scandal. Now, Politico Watch is integrated into my online portfolio, so please visit joshmellits.com/politico-watch for continuing coverage of Politico and the world of domestic and foreign politics.

Thank you for reading!


Obama’s Announcement as a Word Cloud

Another interesting take on President Obama’s announcement late Sunday night is highlighting key words used during his carefully crafted remarks. Wordle is a free website that creates “beautiful word clouds” out of any body of text, with words appearing larger if used more frequently. Below is the entire transcript of Obama’s momentous speech. Click the graphic itself for a larger size.

Wordle: Obama Announces bin Laden's Death

A few observations:

  • Obviously, the main words that stick out are “bin Laden” and “al Qaeda.” The Commander-in-Chief took a militaristic tone, using “war,” “operation” and “attacks.”
  • Yet Obama also brings the message home – literally. “United States,” “people,” “American,” “country,” and “citizens” appear  prominently.
  • Unity is also trumpeted –  “allies,” “friends” “world” and “God”
  • It’s also noteworthy what isn’t emphasized. The religion of “Muslims” and “Islam” are downplayed, as are the finality of “death” and “defeat.” Even the buzz word “justice” doesn’t figure that largely.

Just another way to look past the headlines and dig down behind the text – thanks to multimedia.

The Death of Osama bin Laden

"Osama bin gotten:" Crowds outside the White House celebrate the death of bin Laden. | Photo Courtesey Flickr user theqspeaks

It has been less than a day since CNN reported that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a Pakistani compound, but the world – and the World Wide Web – is still swirling and stunned. There are countless angles to this story, but let’s see how Politico covered one of the biggest stories of the year and, arguably, the decade.

  • The lead has shifted from the first whispers of the death of the terrorist mastermind from the official announcement by Obama and the aftermath and details of the mission.
  • Also in the lead are collections from slideshows of bin Laden’s life (coincidentally labeled as gallery 666) and celebrations outside the White House of his death.
  • At least 40 articles following the lead are related to bin Laden, including reaction and details. Interesting ones include conspirators who believe he is still alive and the role of Twitterin breaking the shocking news.

    Screenshot the morning following the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death. May 2 2011.

  • The multimedia page includes a dozen videos, starting from Obama’s announcement and including crowd celebration footage and pundit reaction. Politico’s own Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen gave his view as well.
  • Each of the subpages dedicated space to the story, from 44’s White House briefing details to 2012 candidates’ reactions (including Rick Santorum’s statement that Obama is still beatable) to members of Congress questioning US aid to Pakistan. Click highlighted celebrity tweets in response to the news and Arena debated the question: “What’s next for the war on terror?”

All in all, Politico has risen to the challenge of covering this momentous occasion with social and multimedia.

Politico and the Shutdown Showdown

A screenshot of one of Politico's many pages dedicated to the 11th-hour budget deal.

As the dust settles from the budget deal that averted a government shutdown, it is worth examining Politico’s multimedia coverage of the shutdown showdown that nearly brought the first stoppage in over a decade.

  • In a remarkably wide scope, there were no less than 20 articles covering many different angles of the unfolding drama and the agreement, from the winners and losers to how the 2012 candidates reacted.
  • One interesting story in particular from Click (a subpage that PW will cover next) included a moment in the proceedings where Congresswoman Donna Edwards quoted a song by The Whites Stripes, “Effect and Cause,” in describing the conditions leading to a shutdown. The piece includes a video of the testimony as well as a link to the song itself.
  • Several other  videos in the aftermath of the deal are posted on the site, including the responses of Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and, of course, President Obama. The list was updated Sunday following appearances on talk shows by Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Mike Pence and others.
  • A slideshow of photos leading up to the deal showed the tension rising between the parties and more images from the deal should be added as well.

In one of the biggest political stories of the year, Politico delivered clear and cohesive coverage. Stay tuned to see how the aftermath of the deal unfolds.

Politico Has March Madness

March Madness has infected Washington. | Courtesy Flickr user mvongrue

It’s NCAA tournament time and even Washington is getting in on the action.  Politico has published a couple of articles covering politicians’ participation in March Madness.

First, President Barack Obama has been questioned by members of the media for filling out a bracket with his picks and taking time on ESPN’s Sportscenter to do so, rather than focus on the multitude of issues at home and abroad. Politico covered the story, called “W.H. responds to bracket gripes.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered NBC News’ Mike Viqueria, “There are crises all the time, for every president.”

And Obama was not alone in getting caught up in the basketball action. Politico’s Amie Parnes writes, “As happens every year when March rolls around, Washington has become a mini-Vegas,” and compiles a nice round-up of various political figures and their Final Four choices in the tournament. These include Carney himself and Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Hari Sevugan. The GOP is in on the fun as well, with Tony Fratto, former deputy White House press secretary under George W. Bush and and Republican strategist and former RNC spokesman Doug Heye. Senator Kay Hagan (D-SC) even has a video on YouTube challenging players to beat her picks.

It’s good to see that even our leaders can be a little like us, and Politico does a good job in presenting it. Happy March Madness, one and all.

Politico in Print

Screen shot of March 4 edition of Politico E-Newspaper.

Politico first launched as a newspaper in 2007, and according to a  2009 Vanity Fair feature, the publication has expanded to a circulation of approximately 32,000. PW focuses on how the website and multimedia help to promote its print branch.

A Subscriptions page provides details on where the newspaper is available in the Washington, D.C. area. An interactive Google map shows the exact locations of the boxes where the paper can be picked up, accompanied by a list of streets. If you’d prefer delivery, you can pay $200/year or $350/2 years for domestic subscribers. If you have $600 dollars and live outside the US, you can even have Politico in print on your doorstep.

But the real winner for people that want to read the newspaper, but don’t live in the D.C. area, is an electronic edition, “a digital copy of the print edition with enhanced features including download and email capabilities.” A link at the bottom of the homepage brings up a subscription page to register. But to bypass registration, an image of the latest issue on the lefthand side launches the electric edition, with the following features:

  • The entire 24-page issue, complete with articles and ads and zoom capabilities. The content can also be viewed fullscreen.
  • Page navigation with first, last, next, and previous. Hitting “next” or “previous” creates a sound effect of a newspaper page turning. Nice touch.
  • An extensive menu allows for various reading modes, such as slideshow and single-page; social bookmarking including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others; print or download as a pdf file; bookmarking and emailing.
  • A key part of the menu as well is MyDigitalNewspaper, a website catalouging various electronic newspaper editions in the English-speaking world, including the Politico e-edition.

It’s curious why Politico would bury the link to this edition so far on their page. But the newspaper, whether in print or online, provides a clean and less jumbled layout of Politico’s content and is an excellent alternative to the main homepage.

Photo Gallery

Outside of Politico coverage and as part of my multimedia journalism course, here is a slideshow I made on President’s Day in Brookline, MA. I guess it is a little political in that way. Enjoy!


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