Drones, Politics, Texas and Tenley

9 Feb

This week was one of the more interesting weeks in Washington. I got to see so many unique places in journalism. Traditional and modern. Newspaper, broadcast and online publications.

Monday was an interesting day. First, our class met Michael Isikoff. Isikoff is the National Investigative Correspondent at NBC News and broke the Monica scandal. He gave us of basic tenants of being an investigative journalism. However, things got interesting when we asked him what he was working on.  He told us about an earlier investigation he was working on Senator Bob Menendez. He got a tip about the senator’s relationship with an eye doctor who used to be his campaign finance manager. His guy was reportedly giving Menendez trips  to the Dominican Republic for free to visit underage prostitute and used some tax payers to paid for the trips. It was an interesting story. However, we asked what he working at the moment, he was it was “classified”. We all laugh it off, but it turns out it was classified. Isikoff was the journalist that revealed the legal justification for drone strikes on Americans. Crazy. I wish I had pressed him on it. After our visit with Michael, we traveled across the river to Arlington to a place that I could not wait to visit, Politico.

Politico is the best place for political journalism. It is the insider’s publication for American politics. The founder noticed journalism downward spiral in 2007 and founded Politico as an online publication and it has taken off ever since. We spoke with senior editor Beth Frerking who Professor Krasnow knew from Dallas. She spoke with us about the reasons that Politico works and has become successful.

  1. Start with the metabolism of the web- Recognize they are a website with a newspaper, not the other way around.
  2. Focus the Audience- Become the ESPN of politics, focus on influencers, do not condense to power, write with an attitude, find out what’s happening in the backroom and get people interested with breaking news
  3. Emphasizing journalism basics- Going to main sources
  4. Good writing/reporting

It is was amazing how they found their niche so quickly and stuck with it. That’s what newspaper should have done a long time ago, but they did not. After we spoke with Beth, we spoke with one of their youngest reporters, Emily Schultheis.

Emily is only 23. 23?! How on earth is working for Politico? Emily covered politics for her student paper at the University of Penn. Politico contacted her a year after they started up, they had a partnership with student newspaper. Emily was chosen to cover Pennsylvania during the 2008 election. She was chosen because of a previous internship with the Pennsylvania Daily News.  After covering the 2008 election, she interned with Politico and has not left since. It was such a cool place. I really liked Politico.

Tuesday was just as amazing. We met Rick Dunham, the Washington bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle. He told us how he has had to adjust to the changing media environment while still working at a newspaper. He spoke a lot about his blog and using different social media platforms like: Storify, Rebel Mouse and Sulia. I had not heard of Storify, but I knew about the other two. Nice to hear that he adjusted and is thriving in a new media environment. He gave me and my class a lot of inspiration for our own publication.

After meeting we discuss what we are going to do for our own class publication, The Tenley Times. I cannot wait to start working for a publication again, it has been so long. I will be working on the photography, satire, social media and sports departments. I cannot wait for this because I will be working with some of the best in the country.

Finally, I took my one night class on the TV show, The Wire. There was a good discussion, afterwards, I introduced myself to the speaker who worked in New York and asked did she know my mother who worked nearby in the 1980s. She actually remembered my mom and her efforts to plants trees outside in the nursing home she administrated in New York. Unbelievable, it just speaks to how far little actions go into making an impression. Something I have to remember everyday I’m here in DC and back in St. Louis.

Well, until next time…

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