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 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.

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.


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.

State of the Union Coverage

Hello all,

Politico Watch is still buzzing the morning after President Obama’s State of the Union address, which lasted approximately one hour. As Politico’s self-described “Super Bowl” kicked off and all the way until the final whistle blew, the site’s moment in the spotlight did not disappoint. Here are some multimedia highlights from Politico’s coverage:

  • Starting promptly at 9 p.m., Politico ran a live blog of the speech. With auto-refresh feature keeping the commentary flowing smoothly, updates came every two to three minutes. The analysis was crisp, using quotes from the speech while addressing its content and also noting the behavior of the audience. A final “takeaway” summarized it all in a paragraph.
  • Under the headline, “Obama’s SOTU puts economy first,” a slideshow of 24 photos from inside the chamber of Congress is interesting and easy to access.
  • Directly next to the photos is a multimedia box complete with videos of “State of the Union Highlights” as well as the response of the Republicans by Rep. Paul Ryan and the Tea Party by Rep. Michelle Bachmann. A video player pops out of the page, playing the selection in full with other videos listed alongside.
  • Below the pictures, about a dozen sub-headlines tackle the individual issues from the remarks, ranging from health care and energy to earmarks and patriotism. Other article topics vary from what was not included to the speech’s jokes and what Michelle Obama was wearing. Several photos and videos are embedded.
  • Again, the GOP and Tea Party responses are covered, though not largely.

Overall, PW awards Politico the MVP in this political “Super Bowl” – perhaps it should be an MVB, Most Valuable Blog. In the coming weeks, PW will watch out for the fallout from the address and ensuing policies on Politico and see if they can keep up the good work.

– PW