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.

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Page Watch: Click

A screenshot from Politico's "Click," an offbeat political aggregator.

Political media sources tend to be on the serious side, and well they should be. The problems facing our nation are no laughing matter, from budget battles to wars abroad. Yet any heavy issues require a degree of levity and . Enter Politico’s Click, the “premier destination for news and gossip on D.C.’s social scene” and the feature of this chapter of PW’s Page Watch.

 

  • The lead is a multi-photo collage of five of the “The Week In One-Liners,” including White House Adviser David Plouffe, former Florida governor
    Charlie Crist, President Obama, and of course, Donald Trump. 14 articles, each with a large blue headline and image, populate the page beneath.
  • Some of these articles include a video as well, such as a clip from Congressman Dennis Kucinich as a ventriloquist on “The Daily Show.” There’s even a weekly Politico Playback video which has an about two-minute collection from “The Best in Late-Night TV.”
  • Another weekly feature is “By the Numbers,” which highlights some key numerical figures from the week in politics and an accompanying story. For example: “3: The number of days lawmakers had to read the fine print in the compromise cutting $38 billion from the current year’s budget.”
  • The fun continues in the archives under “More Click,” which shows the next 20 articles plus over 340 more pages of material.
  • The right-side of the page has more features, including the top 6 “Most Popular Clicks;” social media tie-ins with the “Tweet of the Moment” and buttons to “Get Your Clicks” on Facebook, Twitter and RSS; “Quick Clicks” with external political links; The Scene with social and cultural events around Washington and a form to submit anonymous tips; and a Click Poll to accompany a chosen story,
All told, “Click” provides a breath of fresh air in the dark, cloudy world of politics and does with a good use of multimedia.
NEXT: THE FINAL OFFICIAL POST OF PW
With the semester coming to an end, an overall review of Politico is on order, though this will not be the end of PW.

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


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


Madison Mayhem Coverage

The United States has been captivated by coverage of massive demonstrations across the world. The nation anxiously watches drama developing as one faction fights against the incumbent government, while passionate political protesters march alongside. Washington is unsure how to respond as neither camp is ready to budge until their side has won.

But what if this scene is not Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, or Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain – but the Capitol rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin? To summarize, the showdown pits Tea Party-backed governor Scott Walker versus disgruntled labor supporters as Walker seeks to cut collective bargaining rights for most public employees. Politico is covering the situation using a variety of multimedia:

  • Screenshot from Madison photo slideshow

    The lead on the homepage features a large image of protesters outside the Madison capitol under the banner headline, “GOP governors strike at heart of Dems.”

  • The subsequent article discusses budget cuts in Washington compared to the situation across the country. Writers Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith hit the nail on the head with their paragraph: “The most consequential political action and the most serious policy debates are not taking place in Washington, which appears unlikely to tackle any big-ticket items, but rather beyond the Beltway, in the state capitols, which Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously labeled the “laboratories of democracy.
  • A photo slideshow provides twelve images from inside and outside the Capitol, giving visitors a great visual sense of what these protests are about. An impressive addition to the coverage.
  • Below the lead, a series of articles cover various perspective on the unfolding events from the Republicans and 2012ers to the Democrats and President Obama.
  • However, an unrelated article interrupts the flow of Madison coverage and would be better suitated elsewhere on the page. The piece is about an adviser for prospective 2012er Chris Christie‘s deliberating the formation of a political action committee. This adds to the jumbled layout issues Politico has been struggling with. Also, there is no specific video coverage which would have added more to the story.

Overall, Politico has aptly handled the Madison crisis as an international outlet would cover the Middle East unrest. One of the most interesting pieces connects the two crises, as congressional reporter Meredith Shiner opens, “Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.” This shows that a little levity goes a long way in coverage disputes both home and abroad.


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


2012 Live: Only 643 Days to Election Day…

But who’s counting? Here’s someone who is:

Obama Announcement 2/2007

Senator Obama announces his candidacy. | Photo Courtesy Flickr user acaben

It may seem like centuries ago, but it’s only been three years since Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president on a cold morning in Springfield, Ill. Having won that race in 2008 but since stumbled at the hurdle midway through his first term, Obama now looks down a gaggle of GOP go-getters, gearing up to give him the boot, with roughly 90 weeks until America votes again.

In the first of an upcoming series, Politico Watch will examine each of the subpages of Politico, all found on the top of the site. The first page is “2012 Live,” dedicated entirely to the presidential race leading up to Election Day in about 21 months. and a large blue button greets the user on its homepage to follow the link – “The campaign trail starts here.”

Politico blazes its own trail with several multimedia aspects that make the site informative for readers:

  • Right off the top, the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are highlighted and given their own page.
  • The entire page is well-connected to social media, with links to Facebook, Twitter and RSS. They definitely make it easy to follow and share.
  • The best part of the site is the Candidate Hub, where about 25 potential runners (including Obama) are profiled along the right hand side of the page. Each candidate gets a picture, a line of their current activities, three quick articles and a link to a separate site with an entire bio including title, finances, staff, daybook, online presence (whew) and a…
  • Candidate Tracker, a Google-powered interactive map of locations of candidate visits. Users can filter through each presidential potential and see where and when they have been. Way cool.
  • A live blog with articles on the hopefuls updated regularly throughout the day, including a well written piece about “How the 2012ers are handling Egypt.” The group already has a nickname, apparently.

 

Politico 2012 Screen Grab, Feb. 1

 

However, some aspects of the site are lacking:

  • The lead is the most important part of a page, and while yesterday’s featured a picture, today just had numbers and text. Visuals are a must for a secondary page like this.
  • What good is a Candidate Tracker if you can’t find it? It was featured on the blog earlier in the week but now you have to click for an individual map.
  • Also buried are maps from 2010 midterms and 2008 elections, which clearly would be of interest to readers of this page.
  • Other than the prominent Candidate Hub, the rest of the features are jumbled and the content is not easy on the eyes, with the blog can pictures every other post.
  • Videos are also nowhere to be found.

Overall, despite some cleaning up to do, Politico figures to be involved in the 2012 race every step of the way. After all, every minute counts on the campaign trail. All 925,920 of them remaining.