- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

C-SPAN displayed an energetic alter ego yesterday with the debut of CapitalNews, an online news compendium for political junkies.

Headlines gleaned from print, broadcast and Internet are updated every 15 minutes and will be constantly referred to on C-SPAN’s radio and TV broadcasts. In a decidedly MTV-like move, the site also features C-SPAN’s “most popular” video clips on demand, plus a daily poll about an issue du jour.

Such multifaceted coverage is all in the name of “a more integrated information experience,” said Susan Swain, executive vice-president of C-SPAN, which also has begun podcasting its programs.

“While watching long-form coverage of a hearing or press conference, a viewer can still stay in touch with what else is happening around Washington,” she said.

Of about 1,850 people who participated in yesterday’s poll by early last night, 70 percent agreed that the House of Representatives should “pass legislation shielding gun manufacturers, dealers and importers from lawsuits.”

The new service also links to hundreds of Web sites under a section called “useful resources.”

The site offers access to every federal agency and branch of the military, lawmakers, judges, courts, international governments, and policy organizations of every persuasion, from the Media Research Center to Vote Hemp and Rolling Thunder.

The Drudge Report is a “featured media link,” as are a dozen other news organizations. Networks, magazines, radio shows and other online news sites have their spots here.

“We’re trying to provide the basic information on key stories, but we can also take people into, say, deeper committee movements or legislation on a bill. We’re trying to fulfill a role that is somewhat unique,” said news desk manager Richard Weinstein.

He categorized the added bells and whistles as an “enhancement.”

Although C-SPAN has steered clear of the hard-selling of brand names that often happens on commercial broadcasts — even morning hosts cannot use their names or be identified on camera — the network is batting around such industry terms as “news consumer” and “multiple C-SPAN platforms.”

And they don’t mind a little poke at their image on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and elsewhere. “Personally, I love those Saturday Night pieces,” Mr. Weinstein said.

Meanwhile, attracting the young and restless to the C-SPAN viewership is not out of the question either; the network hinted yesterday that other “experiments” were afoot.

“We’re looking forward to opening up C-SPAN to a new audience,” Mr. Weinstein said. The Web site’s address is www.capitalnews.org.

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