Magazine article Information Today

Washington Alert Breaks New Online Ground

Magazine article Information Today

Washington Alert Breaks New Online Ground

Article excerpt

Some of our best and most innovative online services have been produced by some of our oldest and best established print publishers--Dow Jones and News/Retrieval, Bureau of National Affairs and HRIN, to name just a few. You can add Congressional Quarterly's Washington Alert to this honored list, for its unique data collection, an insistency upon quality, progressive pricing, and state-of-the art search software.

Congressional Quarterly's print publications--Weekly Report, Governing, CQ Almanac, etc.--are unrivaled for thorough reporting and incisive analysis on Congress and its actions. CQ's books, reference works, and reports, including the popular CQ Researcher, are widely used and respected for their accuracy, clarity, and objectivity.

Washington Alert is the online arm of CQ. It blends CQ databases and pertinent third party sources to provide comprehensive coverage of the legislative branch. Washington Alert's software, produced in alliance with Personal Library Software, provides relevance searching techniques that are the future of online information retrieval.


At the heart of Washington Alert's 19 databases are several produced by CQ itself:

* WR--The full text, available online pre-pub, of CQ's flagship magazine, Weekly Report

* NEWS--Reports and analysis from three CQ newsletters: Congressional Monitor, Congressional Insight, and Campaign Practices Report

* BILLTRACK--Detailed legislative histories of every bill, updated daily

* MEMBERS--Profiles, background, positions, votes, memberships, and interest group ratings for congresspeople

* VOTE--Descriptions, including individual tallies, of all roll call floor votes

* SCHEDULE--Floor and committee schedules for up to three months in advance

* COMMITTEES--Reports on all committee actions, hearings, rosters, and votes

* CRBRIEFS--Abstracts of the Congressional Record, available upon day of publication

* DOCUMENT--Catalog of reports, transcripts, and other publications from committees

* CQ RESEARCHER--Analytical reports on a wide range of current issues With their summary data and concise analysis, these databases provide a quick mastery of Congress and its actions. For more detailed research, WA has several full-text document databases:

* BILLTEXT--Texts, updated daily, of every bill

* CRTEXT--Congressional Record text

* COMREPORTS--A11 committee reports

* FEDREGISTER--Federal Register text, including CQ-produced abstracts Congress, of course, does not operate in a vacuum. WA has three databases that cover politics in Washington and beyond:

* TRANSCRIPTS--The Reuter Transcript Report, with press conferences, statements, briefings, and interviews from the White House, committees, agencies, etc. Also covers TV news interview shows

* USPRESS--Selected political stories from 15 U.S. newspapers, including the Washington Post and Washington Times

* EURONEWS--European political news from Reuters and Agence Europe

Many of these databases are exclusives, giving WA unparalleled coverage of the federal legislative process. Thus, WA has everything a Beltway bigshot could want except a real-time newswire. Timeliness, otherwise, is topnotch. Several databases are updated daily, and a few, including TRANSCRIPTS and SCHEDULE, several times daily. Retrospective coverage varies with the database, with some, including BILLTRACK, WEEKLY REPORT, and VOTE, extending back to the 98th Congress. (If you have to ask how far back that is, don't count yourself a true Washington insider.) There is a lot more to come from WA as well: you can look for STATETRACK, which follows state legislation; the full text of the U.S. code and the Code of Federal Regulations; and a directory of congressional office and committee staff members.

WA has a solid support program that includes online help, training programs, a hotline, a subscriber newsletter, and an excellent manual. …

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