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.

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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.


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.

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.


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.