My first field trip

My first field trip for Press, Politics and Power was to The National Press Club to watch The Kalb Report. The Kalb Report, which is a series of forums on journalism and public policy, is co-sponsored by The George Washington Global Media Institute, The Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, and The National Press Club.

Tonight’s program was “The Business of Business Reporting” and featured Alexis Glick of Fox Business Network; Diana Henriques of The New York Times; Steve Pearlstein of The Washington Post; and Ali Velshi of CNN. The Kalb Report is moderated by Marvin Kalb.

I have to admit that I did enjoy the show. My seating probably helped me to enjoy it more as well. I was in the second row off to the right side, so I could see and hear each of them, though I might not have seen Pearlstein every time he answered. I was also in a perfect seat to watch the floor director as she qued Kalb into and out of the show. It was fascinating to watch her command the floor and get everyone into place, hold the time cards and to watch everyone in their various duties.

The show mainly focused on whether journalists did a poor job on covering our current economic situation and how we got to it. And to sum it all up, the panelists pretty much said it was 50-50. They said that while many journalists did warn, others were not.

I found my interest was mostly in the information I gathered about their jobs when they spoke.

At one point in the dialogue, Kalb pressed his guests about how they check their facts, especially Velshi who Kalb said appeared on air frequently. Velshi said that while he is not able to make calls, he has to read up on information and that all CNN reporters and staff share gathered information with each other so everyone has the most updated information. He also has a system to leave the latest news with whoever is taking over for him and vice versa.

Glick said that she starts at 4 a.m. to read through 200 plus papers to be prepared for her workday, which begins at 7 a.m. I believe she said. She said that she has to read hundreds of paper because she has to know everything to ask the tough questions. Answering Kalb on how she finds time to read hundreds of papers each day, she said you learn to speed-read.

It was slightly sad though that Velshi said that TV’s audience forgives them for the rare/occasional mistake he or other broadcasters might make when hurrying to gather news out. This is sad, before a reporter says/writes anything-he needs to check his facts no matter how much pressure he is under to get the story on air. It is still false reporting, though Velshi said that he does tell his producers, who are pressuring him to get on air with a breaking story, that he will when he understands what is happening.

For upcoming journalists, all the panelists said that we should study up on our history, because as Pearlstein said, history tends to repeat itself.  It was also suggested that we understand/study political science as well.

Besides the show, I was also fascinated with the girl I walked to The National Press Club with and sat beside. She is originally from Alaska, but has lived the past few years in Paris and Cambridge. A journalist, she studied in Paris and feel in love with the city. The 26-year-old stayed there once her study abroad time was up and has been making it basically on her own. She was out of excuses on reasons to stay there, so she said she came to The Washington Center to help find a new reason to go back.

Her life experience is amazing because she is doing what I would love to do: live abroad and, of course, write. It has definitely given me extra encouragement to make sure I accomplish my own goals of eventually living overseas-if only for a little while. I know I have semi-accomplished this by living in Canterbury, England, during my study abroad, but I would like to go again.

Another little side note worth mentioning is the homeless man on the metro coming home. For the whole train ride home-around 20 minutes-he serenaded himself with not one, but two harmonicas-one red and one blue. I say this because he played and spoke to himself while staring intently in the train’s window, which is very reflective might I add. He even had a book on Judy Garland to reference his work to. I think he was very impressed by his performance because he was getting into his music and talking about how he got to this point in his music. I have to admit, I couldn’t stop watching-it was interesting.

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