Finding your way around the Longworth Building, figuring out the White House credentialing system or foraging for information about appropriations vs. authorizations -- we’ve all been there. The first few months as a regional reporter covering Washington are as much about logistics as they are about public policy, and sometimes the balance is tipped far on the side of logistics.
Some newcomers are one-person bureaus and must ferret out the city’s shortcuts and semantics by themselves. Others are part of a bureau that provides some background and guidance. But there aren’t enough generous colleagues in the world to eliminate all the confusion about Washington.
That’s where the Regional Reporters Association steps in. The organization was formed in 1988 by Washington-based regional reporters who found they could help each other without compromising competition. We also have more success asking as a group for interviews with high-ranking administration officials than individually.
RRA is unique in Washington because no other membership group helps regional reporters as we do. Throughout the year RRA schedules newsmaker briefings on timely policy issues as well as professional development seminars. Cabinet secretaries have met with RRA in informal brown-bag lunch sessions; veterans sat down and shared how to find the regional story on inauguration day; and programs on breaking issues are regular events.