Monday, December 22, 2008

NYT Quietly Launches "Represent," A Web Feature For Political Junkies And Time-Wasters.

You can believe David Carr's column this morning about the New Jersey newspaper that makes its money by ignoring the Internet, or you can believe the actions of the newspaper that keeps Carr employed.

Want to know what trouble Charles Rangel got into today? Curious who your state senator is? Wonder what the boundaries of your congressional district are? Have a ridiculous amount of spare time on your hands?

For you, the Times website has quietly begun testing the prototype of an interactive feature called "Represent." Among the things it represents is the future of the Times website, as it builds yet more user-friendly local news content into its infrastructure. Anyone with doubts about the Times's long-term commitment to the web (all three of you) will put them to rest when they check out "Represent."

It's simple: you just type in your address, and the blog web feature instantaneously produces a list of all your state and local elected officials, followed by a list of recent mentions in Times coverage, and accompanied by maps of the districts.

Truth is, though, in its current format it's hard to imagine using "Represent" for anything other than wasting time. If the Times wants to make this of any value to its readers, it ought to provide links that let us contact our congressmen and Senators through one click, or offer us addresses, phone numbers and emails. Instead of just packaging more ways to click on Times articles, consider the real reason most of us want to know who represents us -- and give us some news we can really use, not just another aggregation of old headlines.


Anonymous said...

It's not a blog.


Thanks. Fixed above.