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New Post Web section to send readers elsewhere

Monday, September 22, 2008

NEW YORK —  The Washington Post is launching a new Web section linking readers to the best of political coverage _ even scoops by rival newspapers.

The idea behind the Political Browser, expected to start Monday, is to brief political junkies on the top "must reads" of the day, from an article on a scandal to a humorous video making the rounds on Google Inc.'s YouTube.

Encouraging readers to leave one's own Web site to find more content was unthinkable not long ago. But traditional news organizations including the Post have started breaking down their "walled garden" mentality in the past few years.

The shift is partly a response to the growing influence of bloggers, who link to items they find interesting regardless of the source.

News organizations that continue to resist could find themselves irrelevant in the digital age _ an unnerving prospect when news companies need the Internet to offset declines in print advertising and circulation.

"Our relationship with readers is changing," said Jim Brady, the site's executive editor. "We're not just about providing readers with terrific journalism from The Washington Post but access to great journalism, period."

Readers may not trust the paper and come back if they sense Post editors try to play down scoops by competitors, Brady said. Knowing readers tend to check multiple sources anyway, he said, the Post hopes at least to be the front door to political coverage online and encourage more people to visit its ad-supported site.

The Post, a unit of The Washington Post Co., already lets some columnists link to other sources in blog-like fashion, but Brady said this would be the Post's first whole section to offer such links. The Political Browser will be separate from the Post's existing political section, which features coverage by the Post's own reporters.

The Post's new section won't be the only outlet aggregating political news from around the Web. Many blogs perform that role, as do some e-mail newsletters. Brady said he hoped the Post's offering will find a niche through its brevity and its perch in Washington.

Call it a "cheat sheet for politics," Brady said. "This is not something others haven't done, but the Post has a pretty strong brand name in this area."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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