The beta version offers hundreds of concise biographical sketches by Washington Post editorial staffers, covering a broad array of Washington power brokers, including members of the new administration, members of Congress, Pentagon officials, congressional aides and committee staff.
The profiles will be short but comprehensive, including detailed information on each subject's policy and decision-making experience, key positions and associates, political affiliations, voting records, and campaign and personal finance information, as well as relevant news articles from the Web.
At launch, it also features a blog, "The Plum Line," focusing on the personal roles of key figures in policy-making, as well as breaking news on political appointments. In a later phase, WhoRunsGov.com will expand to include state officials, think-tank experts and lobbyists. The "Wiki"-style collaborative features will not be available until later this year, when it will begin accepting user-generated content under the supervision of moderators.
Newspaper publishers have clearly identified politics as a major driver of online audiences, leading them to seek new sources of political content. In early December, Politico revealed that it had recruited 67 newspaper partners for its online content-sharing service in a little less than three months.
According to Politico, its content-sharing network now counts as members The Arizona Republic, Des Moines Register, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as all 27 dailies owned by Advance Publications, including the Star-Ledger, based in Newark, NJ, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. McClatchy will also use the content on its Washington bureau's Web site. Members of the Politico Network can use its content in exchange for ad placement.
However, if recent figures from Nielsen Online are any indication, newspapers may be facing political fatigue in the general public after a year of intense campaigning.
According to Editor & Publisher's analysis of Nielsen figures, between November and December of last year, monthly unique visitors dropped 13% at The New York Times Web site, 15% at The Washington Post's, and 29% at the Los Angeles Times.' Politico's monthly unique visitors dropped 29% over the same period.