Page Watch: Congress

Politico pulls away the curtain on Congress. | Photo courtesy Flickr user Sean Stayte

In this installment of Page Watch, we examine Politico’s coverage on Congress. The legislative branch of government has been seemingly cast aside in the era of executive power, especially in the case of President Obama’s decision on Libya. But as the national budget continues to dominate headlines and merit attention, Congress is still a relevant player in the political field and Politico’s subpage dedicated to the bicameral chambers is worth a look.

  • The lead features the main story accompanied by a picture, such an an article about GOP House Leader John Boehner’s “moment of truth” in the budget deal negotiations. In this case, several videos of Boehner and other GOP members are included as well.
  • Among the other articles is a weekly “Sunday talk show tip sheet” lays out an organized rundown of scheduled appearances of major political players on This Week, Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and other programs.
  • Below the articles is a “Congressional Scorecard” which lists how many Democrats, Republicans and Independents reside in the House of Representatives and the Senate. A quick reminder of the political roster as it stands after the 2010 midterm elections and a handy counter for the party lines in both chambers.
  • Stories more than 2 days old are relegated below the scorecard to a “More Congress News” section, with just headlines.
  • Historical and contextual resources fill out the rest of the page. First, there is a list of important links related to Congress, such as the official sites of the House and Senate, as well as the Federal Election Commission and Library of Congress. The staff Politico writers are also listed, though only by name.

    Screenshot of Politico: Congress, April 3.

  • An interesting feature of the site is This Day in Congress, highlighting significant events in congressional history, such as Abigail Adams’ feminist initiative in 1776. However, this is updated sporadically during the week, perhaps because a landmark or anniversary doesn’t happen every day.
  • Also on the negative side, the site is lacking a blog of easy-to-read and essential content, as well as social media connections for sharing the site.

All told, the page is a good collection and presentation of congressional coverage, though an easier interface and more would help make it even better.

NEXT ON PAGE WATCH: POLITICO CLICK

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Page Watch: 44

President Barack Obama, seen here speaking at Pennsylvania State University earlier this month, is under Politico's microscope constantly. | Photo courtesy Flickr user pennstatelive

Before the next installment of the Page Watch series on Politico Watch, I want to direct your attention to the Flickr widget on the right-hand column underneath the blogroll. The pictures are the same as the slideshow in the previous post, but it is yet another way multimedia can be used to tell a story or cover a beat.

Speaking of which, there are few assignments coveted more than White House Correspondent. Covering the Commander-in-Chief and following the leader of the free world is a heavy responsibility for any news outlet, and Politico is equipped with an additionally burden of incorporating multimedia into their reporting on the president. Therefore, in the second issue of Page Watch, PW sets its sights on “44,” described by Politico as “A Living Diary of the Obama Presidency.” More than halfway through the forty-fourth presidency (hence the name of the page), let’s examine how Politico measures up to the challenge, as the site name states, “minute by minute”:

  • The lead to the site is a live blog called “The Whiteboard,” which has daily updates on Obama’s official statements and activities. A link to “all of today’s posts” sends the viewer to an archives page.
  • Along the righthand side of the page, a large blue button serves as a link to “Obama in Video.” The page has clips from White House press secretary Jay Carney as well as original Politico pieces on the president.
  • An official calender of the president’s events is also listed on the right column, both by day and by month. A box for anonymous tips for story ideas is provided as well.

    Screenshot of "44", February 27

  • The articles are listed in pairs, unlike the jumbled home page, and are affixed with a blue headline box and images. Videos such as Obama’s weekly address and text alongside press briefings are included in the body of the page.
  • Finally, a rich archives section can be found on the bottom of the page, divided into topics of interest to White House followers. These include people (“FLOTUS” or First Lady, First Family, “Veep” Joe Biden, White House Staff, Republicans) and subjects (media, policy, Cabinet, Supreme Court).

The words and actions from White House’s hallowed chambers are difficult to capture and disseminate, but Politico does an admirable job in reporting President Obama’s through a multitude of multimedia in a clean layout.

NEXT ON PAGE WATCH: CONGRESS


Politico on Egypt

Politico.com screenshot minutes after Hosni Mubarak announces his resignation.

The world has watched with great anticipation over the past few weeks as protesters in Egypt took the streets in dramatic fashion, demanding that long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak resign. The octogenarian head of state waffled, stating his intention not to run for re-election in September and assuring a transition of power to his vice president Omar Suleiman. Finally, after yesterday’s address that insisted the leader would not step down, Suleiman officially announced that Mubarak indeed will resign. Politico has covered the story from the perspective of the White House and the rest of American politics. Since this news is breaking and still in progress, here are some quick thoughts on the site’s coverage of Mubarak’s resignation:

  • The lead is a large above the fold image of Mubarak on state television addressing his people for the last time as their leader – as it should. A photo of protesters waving a large Egyptian flag also adorned the homepage.
  • The link leads to an article detailing the course of events, protesters’ jubilant reactions and the American response, namely President Obama’s plans to address the media at 1:30 outside the White House. A thirty-second video of Suleiman’s address is clearly displayed
  • Two more articles under the headine are related to the latest developments. One is the “44“, or President Obama’s running diary, with blog text announcing “Finally, A Result” and Obama’s plans to make a statement.
  • The second is  the “Arena”, or “daily debate with policymakers and opinion shapers,” has the topic, “A Berlin Wall Moment for Egypt?” Moderator David Mark asks questions about what the move means and what’s next, and three responses are listed so far with possibly more to follow.

In what is clearly a fluid and significant course of events, Politico has deftly responded, removing yesterday’s content about Mubarak’s faux-resignation and replaced it with timely analysis and response. Be sure to check Politico and other media outlets for how the rest of the situation will play out.

– PW