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.