I have had my own blog since my third year of college. I kept it at the American Prospect, and then brought it over to The Washington Post. Monday, that ends, and Wonkblog begins.
The idea for Wonkblog came out of another group project: Wonkbook, the morning policy e-mail that I write alongside Dylan Matthews. Every morning, I wake up to a half-dozen stories that are clearly important and that any policy site should be trying to follow in some detail. Stories about the troubled implementation of the health-care and financial reform bills, stories about the wrangling over infrastructure spending and energy regulations, stories about the unusual power a bureaucrat or backbencher is exerting over an issue that affects us all. Stories that matter, but that I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to cover.
A few months ago, I went to my editors with a proposal to hire three reporters who could help cover those stories. At the time, I didn’t think it likely that they would say yes. But they did. I also didn’t think it possible that we could get journalists as good as Brad Plumer, Suzy Khimm and Sarah Kliff, and I wasn’t willing to go forward with the project if we couldn’t find the right people. But we did.
You’ve come to know their writing over the past month as they’ve settled in and we’ve prepared the relaunch.
Loosely speaking, everyone has a beat: Brad covers energy and the environment; Sarah focuses on health care; Suzy watches the budget process and the financial-regulation bill. But they’re smart folks, and they’ll range widely as they see stories worth covering. And so will the site.
With Wonkblog, we want to create the single best source for domestic and economic policy coverage anywhere. The mornings will still begin with Wonkbook’s aggregation of policy news. What will follow from Brad, Suzy, Sarah and myself will be more reported, more comprehensive and more useful than what I’ve been able to provide on my own.
The site, as you’ll see tomorrow, will also be undergoing a substantial redesign: It will be much more navigable, with more ways to sort content (say, by author or subject) and find new posts you might be interested in. It will be quicker to load, and easier to read. It will also include some features and tweaks that have long been on the wish list: the ability to easily print articles, for instance, or to keep them atop the page. There will also be more weekend content, including a regular collaboration with LongForm.org on a weekly roundup of the best long-form policy stories.
Some things won’t change: The address will remain the same, and your RSS feeds will continue to work. My contributions, too, will remain familiar.
There will be hiccups, of course. The new site will inevitably exhibit some early glitches. It will take us a bit of time to find our tone, and to learn how to balance the dense stuff with lighter fare. Feel free to e-mail me with problems you’re finding or suggestions for new features. I’ll do my best to respond quickly.
Some of you, I know, will e-mail me with requests to turn back the clock, to put the site back to the way it was. But the way it was wasn’t good enough.
My goal as a journalist has always been to cover Washington through the lens of policy rather than politics, and to show that it can be done in a way that feels interesting and vital. But I’ve cheated a little: I’ve focused on the big stories, the A1 stories, the stories that everyone already knew they wanted to read and hear about.
At Wonkblog, we’ll continue to cover those stories. But we’ll also cover the stories that aren’t leading the evening news, but perhaps should be. I have felt personally ashamed that after spending so much time covering the passage of health-care reform and Dodd-Frank, I have spent so little time keeping you up-to-date on the efforts to implement the two laws. With Sarah and Suzy here, those stories will no longer go uncovered. I have always felt embarrassed that I know so little about energy and climate change, which are arguably the most consequential issues facing our economy, and even our planet. With Brad here, those topics will be covered.
A relaunch like this is the work of many, of course. Greg Schneider, Raju Narisetti, Liz Spayd and Marcus Brauchli found the resources to invest in new coverage and a new idea during a tough time for the industry. Sarah Sampsel, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, Erica Pytlovany and the rest of the design and development team came up with a fantastic new look for the blog. Ariana Eunjung Cha, Sandy Sugawara and Eric Rich have spent a lot of time figuring out how to integrate Wonkblog with the rest of the Web site. Kelly Johnson has been an invaluable partner in this, as she’s been in almost everything I have done at The Post. Sarah Halzack and Michelle Williams have worked endlessly to produce the site and the morning e-mail. And the many editors on the universal desk — especially Gene Fynes and Kendra Nichols, who have been with my blog since the very beginning — have been tireless about figuring out ways to get our articles up at Internet speed. And none of this, of course, would be happening if Steve Pearlstein hadn’t stuck his neck out to bring me to The Post in 2009. Thanks to all of them, and to anyone I have forgotten.
But my biggest thanks, of course, goes to all of you. Without your visits to the site — and, of course, occasional clicks on the ads — none of this would be here at all. Above all, the idea for Wonkblog is to do a better job providing you with the sort of policy content and information that you come here for. Here we go.