News & Politics

Don Graham Gets the Internet and Facebook

It’s official: Don Graham “gets it,” perhaps more than any other big newspaper publisher.

As in “gets the Internet.” 

Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company and the real boss of the daily paper, was the first to throw millions at, more than a decade ago, when most publishers thought a web site was where spiders hung out.

This week Graham alerted Posties that their work is now part of Facebook, the social networking site that is drawing eyeballs across the globe. His e-mail introduced the new “widget” to Post employees on Halloween night.

“It’s called newsTracker,” Graham wrote, “and it lets you look at news about the people and events that matter most to you (with news from the Post playing the lead role).”

With one stoke, Graham and his Internet team have made Post content available on a hot site that competes with Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace.

Here’s a short course on the “newstracker” widget:

Facebook is where people meet to share news as prosaic as what they ate for lunch and what they are listening to at the moment to more lofty information like what news of the day they are reading and sharing.

Anyone can join Facebook, and anyone can create a “widget,” which is essentially a gadget or “tool” on the Facebook page which will give you information and link you to other sites. It can be a photo display, like My Flickr, or it can be a listing of favorite music.

The Post’s “newsTracker” widget allows Facebook members to list news topics that interest them, it sends them story headlines, which link to and oher news publications. 

If newsTracker is a success, it will drive traffic to

“If” is the big question. Facebook is the ultimate news democracy. Members can choose to put “newsTracker” on their Facebook page, which will be a coup for Graham, or people will ignore it, in which case it will be just another blip in the dustbin of Internet ideas.

"The race to colonize Facebook is underway," says Washington editor Jim Brady. "Everybody is trying to put up an application and claim a peice of the site."

Either way, Don Graham has shown again why he and the Post just might stay alive and prosper in the ever-changing world of publishing in the Internet age. Graham credits “Rob Curley and his team (with Deryck Hodge and Jesse Foltz starring, among others)” for creating “newsTracker.”

But Rob Curley says the idea came from Don Graham.