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CBSNews.com Creates 'Washington Unplugged' Webcast

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NEW YORK CBSNews.com is looking to ride the Obama-driven wave of interest in national politics for as long as it lasts.

On Friday, the site will launch Washington Unplugged, a weekly 15-minute Webcast hosted by Face The Nation’s Bob Schieffer that will cover the latest happenings in the U.S. government.

The show will feature a mix of interviews with politicians and well as roundtable discussions among political reporters and pundits. Plus, Schieffer will regularly answer questions submitted by viewers.

Washington Unplugged comes on the heels of a series of live Webcasts hosted by CBS News anchor Katie Couric during the network’s coverage of the recent political conventions, presidential debates and last month’s inauguration. Over time, those Webcasts saw their audience build as Couric and her team were able to establish a less formal and more interactive news program, according to Mark Larkin, vp of programming and operations, CBSNews.com.

“We had a nice run with Katie’s Webcasts, and we just saw a lot of engagement from our users,” he said. “There was a casual component to those that worked and allowed for a lot more audience interaction. And politics is obviously going to be a big point of focus for people with the new administration, even take away the economy.”

The announcement to launch Washington Unplugged is the second major move by CBS News to expand its original online offerings in the past week. Last Tuesday the news organization unveiled plans to roll out MoneyWatch.com, a companion business-news site geared to helping users navigate the economic crisis.

Of course, CBS’ decision to launch a weekly news series on the Web is not unprecedented. ABC News Now has long produced a daily news podcast which is accessible online and via iTunes.