After all the meetings, I am back home and reflecting on what we accomplished and what we didn’t. We were asked to speak to the Foundation board members on Friday and tell them of our experiences.
It’s easy to go back after the fact and see the strengths of the program and those items that would require a bit of adjustments before the next crop of new faces hit the DC streets.
The communication within the organization was tremendously on target. We consistently received emails from the organizers that kept us ‘in the know.’ However, there were a few missteps in the communication. At one point, we received an email that appeared to change our focus from gun control to another issue. As it turns out, this was in line with what the foundation members were working on and caused a bit of confusion – for me at least.
Because of the sequestration cuts, our White House visit was nixed and something else replaced the visit. That was certainly not something that the organizers could possibly have foreseen. The schedule changes required us to be flexible in our meeting time requests with the political offices. What caused difficulty was the amount of time traveling and walking to and from places, especially Capitol Hill. While a three hour time-slot for senate and house visits may have seemed enough, the time needed to check in through security and to find our way to the various offices was not long enough. We were often moving from one appointment to the next with less time than was necessary to complete the task. Or at least not enough time to travel from place to place.
One of the things I found in need of retooling was the scheduling in advance of our arrival. When the email arrived stating that we needed to contact our senators and house rep, I reached out to several of the politician’s offices and only received responses back from one. Certainly it didn’t surprise me, as I am currently working on a class project that required us to contact our state representatives and my classmates and I received a very low rate of return communication.
It is one of the issues of being a journalist, according to more than one of my mentors, that we wouldn’t necessarily receive a return call from a contact’s office. As a matter of fact, I was told that my house representative’s staffer would speak to me, but only off the record. As a journalist, I was rather put off by that request. Interestingly enough, we were held up in a meeting with the VP’s press secretary and I had to cancel the appointment after all.
One of the mentors, I want to say it was Doug Anstaett, held a conference call with his students he mentored to discuss the upcoming event. I think this would have been a great way to start the program and get all members on the same track. Additionally, it would have offered the students the opportunity to ‘meet’ one another and begin a dialog between each other and their mentors.
The hosted events at The Newseum, the Gallup Poll and the National Press Club were the highlights of the visit. These are definite keepers for future events. For me as a journalist, the Newseum was a great way of bringing the focus of journalism into one spot and allowing me to see the history of my chosen field. The Gallup Poll meeting was an interesting way to provide budding journalist with another tool in their research. As one of my professors would say, it makes us a half inch taller than our competition having that tool in our toolkit. The National Press Club visit should continue to delight any budding journalist for its history and how it plays a large part in our landscape for press conferences in DC.
The greatest aspect of this program was the introduction of a mentor into the mix. The expertise and advice of each member was paramount to the understanding of the tasks and expectations. Their wisdom and guidance provided each of the students with a lifeline into the crazy political waters of DC. Each brought an individual style and strength to the program. Stan Schwartz and Mark Magyar both had great knowledge of DC and were both eager to share stories (how lobbyist got their name was the best). Doug Anstaett’s wisdom and humor kept us enlightened and laughing. Liz Parker became the mother figure for all of us and was the intellectual center for the group. When we were able to see him, Allen Beerman became the center of our universe, sharing stories and providing us with the benefit of his experience and connections.
In all, I feel that the program was very eye-opening into the way politics and the press maneuver to create relationships for their individual gain. In as much as I think that the journalism aspect of DC would be extremely exciting, I can see how developing those relationships can be challenging.
It is my hope that this program will continue to grow and allow other students the benefit of this experience. Maybe one day I will be one of the mentors and can share this experience with a future journalist.
The wonderful and talented Mr. Allen Beerman arranged a breakfast meeting with the Gallup Poll senior editor, Steve Crabtree on Friday morning. The fellows and mentors taxied their way to the Gallup building to meet with Crabtree. The office building was pretty outstanding, as it was a new section built adjacent to an older brick wall within the building.
Mr. Crabtree provided an informative Powerpoint presentation on the Gallup Poll, explaining its history and how it has come to be an important part of our understanding of the world around us. We reviewed current polling data on our topic of gun control, as well as other interesting polls about quality of life and other data that Gallup provides to customers and the world through its internet service.
After wrapping up our time with Mr. Crabtree, Mr. Beerman headed back to the capitol while the rest of us grabbed a cab to the hotel.
We were to have lunch with the National Newspaper Association Foundation. This was our final event as a group. The five of us fellows were asked to speak to the foundation members, telling of our experiences and what we learned. For some reason, the ladies in the group decided that I was to be volunteered to go first. (Thanks friends!)
I expressed my gratitude at the opportunity to be a part of this pilot program. The opportunity to meet with staffers and have a mentor provide us with the benefit of their experience was the best part of the trip for me. To be able to learn from these experienced journalists, teachers, publishers and newfound friends was a highlight that none of us would soon forget.
As we wrapped up the luncheon, we were able to meet with various members of the foundation. I tried to make sure that I thanked everyone that had been involved in this process. If I ultimately forgot someone, that is my error and I apologize.
In my college career, I have been given many opportunities to work with amazing people. The 2013 Fellows program has been the pinnacle of my college experience. In the coming years, it is my hope to see this program continued for other college students. Ultimately, I would like to be a mentor to others, much like those we had on this trip. Through the hard work, dedication and teaching abilities of our mentors, we five learned much about this process called journalism.
Be sure to give me a call next year, maybe I can be of service.
The beautiful offices of the Gallup Poll where they hosted the National Newspaper Association Fellows of 2013. Friday, March 15, 2013
The day started with a quick breakfast in the hotel before catching the Metro to the House and Senate offices. The group split up with their mentors, after starting their journey at the Cannon building. I stopped off at Jack Kingston‘s office (R-GA) and grabbed the press secretary‘s business card. He is the local House Rep for Valdosta State University. I hadn’t thought to contact him, but reached out to Kingston’s office at Doug Anstaett’s suggestion.
We regrouped at the Rayburn building, where learned that Asha Anchan had a close encounter of the Paul Ryan kind. He brushed past her on the stairway. But that wasn’t the last politician sighting of the day. Most of our students were unable to connect with their Congressmen or Senators. Still we were slated to return later in the day.
We walked over to the Newseum building which was more than a casual stroll, as the cold winds rushed us along. We were greeted by Jim Duff, CEO of Newseum, who hosted lunch for the group. Additionally, Jan Neuharth joined the group and answered questions from attendees. She is the daughter of Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today.
The view of the Capitol was a spectacular backdrop for lunch, as Duff and Neuharth asked questions of the students and mentors and answered ours as well. We posed for photos on the balcony with the amazing view. Keep a watch on the Newseum as they are preparing to make a huge announcement about a new partnership.
After lunch, we made our way to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a meeting with the press secretary to Vice President Joe Biden. The press secretary provided us background on the Executive Action items from the Vice President’s office. We learned that the Judiciary Committee advanced a Gun Control bill earlier in the day. As we left the building, we learned that Joe Biden was leaving the building too. We stayed nearby and watched as his caravan pulled out from the Eisenhower building.
We trekked back to the House and Senate buildings to locate our Senators, again. This time Kelsey set up an appointment with Johnny Isackson’s press secretary. We spoke with her for a few minutes and headed to the senate.
The press secretary arranged some tickets for the House and Senate floor. Doug, Kelsey and I sat in the upper seats for a few minutes in the senate proceedings.
That evening, we met at the National Press Club where the National Newspaper Association Foundation members were gathered for dinner and a guest speaker. Ken Paulson is the president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. His speech emphasized that we carry on the tradition of print newspapers, especially community newspapers which are more important given the changes in how news is being delivered to the masses. Paulson reminded us that parent’s still want to see their children’s photos in the paper for local awards or sporting events.
During the evening’s event, we five students were presented to the members of the foundation. Liz Parker provided a certificate to each of us for our participation as News Fellows for the inaugural group in 2013.
The end of our busy day came to a close as we made our way back to the Crystal City Marriott. Personally, I crashed before my computer even booted up that evening.
We gathered in the lobby to get acquainted. The four, fresh-faced young ladies and I joined the mentors for a quick round of introductions. Afterwards, we met with additional sponsors and the coordinators. The enthusiasm filled the room as we took turns introducing ourselves. It was a great way to get to meet the amazing people who made this happen and brought us together in D.C. Alan Beerman, Tonda Rush, Liz Parker, Doug Anstaett, Mark Magyar, Stan Schwartz and Liz Parker were on hand to urge us forward. (My apologies if I didn’t mention someone.)
After the meet and greet, the students: Asha Anchan from Nebraska, Kelsey Kent from Georgia, Rachel Rodgers from Illinois, Emily Roland from Mississippi and I joined our mentors for dinner at Fogo de Chao – a Brazilian steakhouse. Liz, Stan, Mark and Doug entertained the students at dinner with tales of writing, editing and publishing.
We discussed the coming days’ events, meetings and possibilities. Midway through dinner, Vice President Biden’s office asked for our social security numbers. We will be meeting with a member of his staff to discuss gun control tomorrow. I don’t know about the rest of the crew, but I am looking forward to this!
I won’t give away any of the other exciting things in store for tomorrow. Suffice it to say that we are all looking forward to an adventure as tomorrow unfolds.
I just have to remember: bring a heavier coat next time!
I arrived early for my flight and there’s barely anyone here. The airport is so small. It’s been a while since I have flown out of a regional airport.
I received an update that I am still working on gun control as my topic. Which is a relief because that’s what I had been focusing on for the last couple of weeks.
We were told to get in touch with our House Rep or Senator. After contacting my House Rep, I was told that someone from his office can meet with me, but only “off the record.” I was a little taken aback that this had to be off the record. We will see what they have to say once I am in the Reps office.
In any event, I am incredibly excited and am eager to get on the airplane.