Welcome to the new Washington Week Online

Posted: Wed, 02/17/2010 - 10:39am

Welcome to the new Washington Week website, and to a new blog, which will allow me to stay in better touch with the smartest viewers of public affairs television.

I’ve met many of you as I’ve traveled the country and the world. Your observations are always smart, and your questions are always sharp. So as I begin chatting with you online, I will be incorporating some of your thoughts and observations into my own.

I also hope to keep sharing with you the essence of what makes Washington Week invaluable. I prize analysis over opinion, insight over insistence. Thanks to my perch here, I get to see a lot, and I will share that with you.

Viewers often ask me how we decide what to discuss on Friday nights, so let me start this new enterprise by taking you behind the curtain a bit.

We have a rotating stable of a couple of dozen panelists who cover everything from the White House to Congress to Pentagon to the Supreme Court. These are the reporters who cover the news, and we are privileged to be able to recruit them to sit around our table on Friday nights.

But the plan for the program begins early in the week. Through the wonder of email and hyperlinks, my producers keep me up to date on what everybody is writing. And through my work at the PBS NewsHour (where I work three days a week), I keep up to speed on the important stories.

We don’t decide who will be on the program until Thursdays, when we weigh the mix of stories panelists have written against the potential for late breaking news, availability, and even chemistry. When we get it right, we hope our Friday roundtable feels like you, the viewer, are eavesdropping on a really interesting dinner party conversation.

You’re likely to hear more light than heat at our table. We hope to explain and tell you why things happen; how things come together. My favorite moments come when a reporter tells me what happened behind the scenes in a way that reveals how Washington works. At the end of a very rapid half hour, we hope we will leave you with the tools to make up your minds for yourselves.

I admit it. I am a political junkie. But I love politics because of the impact it has on peoples’ lives. If your child is educated well, or isn’t, that often is rooted in politics. If you pay too much in taxes or get back too little from your government, that too is often determined by politics. After all, one Senator’s pork project is another’s constituent service. It’s our jobs on Friday nights to help you to be able to tell the difference.

Our reconfigured website will take you behind our scenes during the week. Look for these enhanced features:

On the Radar will be your link to the award-winning reporting done by Washington Week panelists as stories develop throughout the week.

National Journal, our partner, will provide some of the best inside-Washington reporting by a staff with a reputation for being knowledgeable and objective experts on policy and politics.

The Vault is your blast to the past, featuring clips of programs from Washington Week's archives dating back to 1969.

Watch the Show and Webcast Extra. If you miss the broadcast or just want to see it again, you can watch it online. Plus, the conversation continues online in our after-show "Webcast Extra," where we take your questions and cover the stories we missed on air.

Write us. Let us know when we’re telling the story well, and when we’re not. But keep on watching, every Friday on your local PBS station.