About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

January 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad

« Can't We All Just Get Along? | Main | In Search of Innovation »

November 20, 2006


David Johnson

That's already happening. Any reporter who is enterprising enough can bail now and start their own business, like rafat at paidcontent. every newsroom layoff creates a potential competitor, worse than eating seed corn or burning the planks of the ship to steam ashore. the practice is only pushing the tipping point closer and closer.

Derek Willis

There are some political areas in which washingtonpost.com has done quite well, including the congressional votes database, which is the only one of its kind done by a newspaper (GovTrack also has an excellent votes db). I don't think that, along with Chris Cillizza's blog and reporting for the paper, could be described as not going much "beyond a couple of blogs."

(full disclosure: I work at the Post and was involved in building the votes database).

Mark Potts

Thanks for the comment. With all due respect, the political area of WashingtonPost.com is a shadow of what it used to be. PoliticsNow, which was unfortunately terminated in the late 1990s, and its successors, which withered away a couple of years ago, were true political verticals, offering far more than what appeared in the paper.

The Congressional database (which arguably is more about governing than politics) and the Cillizza and Froomkin blogs/columns are good additions to the core newspaper coverage, but they don't really represent a full-blown commitment to building a great vertical political coverage area on the site. Heck, it wasn't until a few weeks ago that a link to Politics even returned to the main navigation on the Post.com home page!

Derek Willis

PoliticsNow was a great thing, I agree, but much of that was based on partnerships with CQ (where I worked at the time) and other outlets. Most of those places now have their own web sites and strategies, so it's difficult to recreate something like that.

Cillizza and Froomkin were not hired by and don't work for the newspaper, they work for the website and the bulk of their output appears only online, not in print (Cillizza has done some great reporting for the paper as well). Other features, like the site's election tracker, political ad database and midterm election game are examples of content that never appeared in the paper but broadened the Post's offerings online. And let's not forget the chats, which are among the site's most popular features (whereas many other papers barely engage in them). We have a political chat every weekday.

And I have to disagree that congressional votes, particularly in the past 10 years, have been less about politics and more about governing. The governor-elect of Florida's ad campaign this year featured the voting record of his opponent, Rep. Jim Davis, and used our database as its source.

Navigation? Sure, I'll give you that.

Russ Walker


I must dissent vigorously with your characterization of the treatment of politics on post.com. We accomplished big things in 2006, and it was more than just adding "a few blogs." We created an interactive database of congressional votes, a database of key House, Senate and gubernatorial races that included much more information than the paper featured, a slew of video-print collaborations (Ohio River Ramble, Cillizza's interview series with likely 2008 candidates, etc.). We built a "game" to let users pick the outcome of the elections and compare their predictions with other "players," and we built a database of political advertising.

As for the congressional votes database, did you know that it featured more than just vote information? We had bios of the lawmakers, a copy of each member's financial disclosure form, and we worked with our print colleagues to write plain English descriptions of the most important votes of the 109th Congress -- exactly the kind of service journalism that the paper lacks the space to do on a regular basis but which its politics staff remains committed to providing -- online, all the time.

You'll see even more from the site in 2007 and 2008. John Harris and Jim VandeHei are two of the best in journalism. We'll miss them, but we're not paralyzed in their absence.

Come by the office sometime and see what we're up to. I think you'll reconsider your views.

The comments to this entry are closed.