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WaPo Widget Captures the Plodding Pace of Administration Appointments

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, March 23 2009

Head Count | Tracking Obama's Appointments | The Washington PostSure, it's the New York Times' digital division that gets New York Magazine photo spreads worthy of Hollywood starlets. (Headline: "The Renegades at the New York Times," and I'm assuming I'm not the only one picturing programmers arriving to work at the Times brandishing swords and some sort of face-obscuring masks.) But their colleagues to the south at the Washington Post aren't willing to cede the web so quickly. Check out this new widget on Obama Administration appointments, tracking the 486 Senate-approved positions the new president has to fill. Just 6.7% of the jobs, notes the widget, have been filled thus far. Note the adorably teensy pie charts showing which federal agencies have the most open posts, and the useful gender, ethnicity, age, and connections breakdowns. (You'll be surprised to learn, for example, that 10 of the 43 appointees confirmed thus far either attended Obama's alma mater of Harvard or taught there.) A widget like this might not immediately smack of journalism, but it is a powerful way to tell a cumulative, evolving political story like presidential appointments that's a bit more difficult to serve with the traditional lede-nutgraf-body-kicker article format.