Early Bird blog

Early Bird blog
: The Wall Street Journal reports on a compilation of military reporting in worldwide press — the “Early Bird — that’s hot reading in Washington, from Rumseld on down.

It’s just a blog on paper.

The Current News Early Bird, or simply “the Bird,” as it’s known around the Pentagon, is compiled by a staff of four Pentagon employees from a grubby building it shares with a sheet-metal-workers union in downtown Alexandria, Va. Articles from major publications such as the New York Times and the London Telegraph jostle with squibs from more-obscure journals, such as Inside Missile Defense and Manufacturing & Technology News.

The Bird shows how, in a capital where information is a precious currency, even a humble news digest can take on huge influence if it has the right readers. With two U.S. wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and military affairs dominating headlines, the Bird has become indispensable for many people in Washington. It has been cited in Harvard dissertations and congressional testimony and spawned copycat publications in other government offices.

The White House, for instance, publishes its own compilation of news clips for officials who want to bypass reading the newspapers. So do agencies ranging from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to the Treasury Department. The State Department’s “Media Reaction Unit” operates a massive clip service that publishes updated editions throughout the day. Called “Daily Clips,” it has never had the insider heft that the Bird does. “Maybe we need a catchier name,” one State Department official says.

  • One of your favorite FCC commissioners used to prepare the Early Bird. Here’s the relevant — or irrelevant — excerpt from an OJR interview [ http://ojr.org/ojr/kramer/1062617050.php ] I did with Michael Powell last August.
    OJR: I was an intern in the White House news summary office back in the Carter days reading dozens of papers a day.
    MP: I did the same thing at the Pentagon, the Pentagon Early Bird at 6 in the morning. Tape it together. Imagine now how silly that looked. And now you don’t even have to centralize it anymore. I get everything from clips cut, pasted, sent to my RIM all day long, to my phone all day long, to my e-mail account all day long and that’s before I even go on the Internet. It’s blown a hole in the way people inform themselves.

  • BD

    The Early Bird a blog? I’m not so sure. It’s just a compilation of news articles and opinion from various sources. It does serve as a good measure of which way the wind is blowing from a policy maker’s perspective. I used to read it daily when I was on active duty in the Navy. Now that I’m a reservist, I still have online access, but I’ve stopped reading it because I have found that I can get mostly the same information using a news aggregator. And I get that throughout the day, as things happen, not once a day in the morning. I just checked the Early Bird now, and there wasn’t much in it that I hadn’t seen already via my aggregator. It’s probably a great read for busy officials who don’t have time to go digging on their own, though.

  • Ebb Tide

    And on C-span every morning someone reads the headlines, op-eds from all the morning papers, if they did away with the silly phone calls it would REALLY ROCK! But thankfully that is why someone invented the FF button on a TiVo remote. I only record the Friday show with Brian Lamb, but they do it everyday. I can watch the whole thing in about 20 mins.