RRA on the web
By Brett Lieberman
The Regional Reporters Association takes its first step into the
Internet age with a web site devoted to regional reporting.
The site, which can be accessed at http://www.rra.org, was set to
launch Monday, Aug. 11. Please try back in a few days, though, if you
find the site isn't up yet.
RRA Online aims to offer members archived access to the Regional
Reporter newsletter, updated information on coming events, useful web
sites, links to online newspapers and a link to The Washington Times
daybook. The site also offers a simple way to give board members feedback.
Among the features:
"About RRA" provides a brief history of RRA, explaining how
reporters decided they could better cooperate than compete.
"RRA Guide" offers a sample of our printed guide to covering
Washington. It offers newcomers the Top 10 list of things to do.
"Links" offers Internet sites that other regionals find useful.
We hope it will become a one-stop resource as members suggest adding new
Like the Internet itself, this web site will change day-to-day
and month-to-month as we add more and as we try to make it even easier to
access. Possible additions include listings of RRA members searchable by
name, organization and beat, as well as a forum for members to post
queries, seek advice and share ideas.
How to beat the summer doldrums
By Ellyn Ferguson
The dull days of August are here, but your editors still expect a
steady stream of stories. Here are a few ideas for the lean days until
September arrives with the pitter-patter of returning lawmakers:
Play detective on the recently passed $94 billion tax package
to find winners and losers from your area. You also might want to detail
how the groups or individuals lost out in the last hours of horse-trading
when they saw a pet provision in an earlier version disappear in the
Gannett News Service
Curl up with the July 31 campaign finance reports if you have a
race for an open seat in 1998 or a shaky incumbent who could have trouble
raising money. Take a look at where the money came from as well as how it
was spent. Also check with the Center for Responsive Politics's web site
at http://www.crp.org or with an analyst at the center itself to see if
there is a profile on past contributors to your lawmakers. The center
breaks contributors down by industries and interests, helping you put the
latest report into context.
Enjoy yourself and visit one of the historic battlefields,
towns or monuments in the area for a travel piece. Who knows, there may
be some regional link, such as a local regiment that fought at Gettysburg.
Delve into foster care, an area where Congress seems determined
to make changes. How many kids in your state are in foster care? Do they
match the national demographics for kids in foster care? What do your
local and state officials or foster parents believe should be done? Does
that square with some proposals being floated on the Hill?
Check the calendar. Is there an anniversary of regional or
national significance coming up?
Track down that former lawmaker, staffer or lobbyist from your
coverage area and do a what-ever-happened-to-so-and-so story for the
readers back home.
Revisit a federal issue or law that once drew a lot of
attention in your area. Has the law done what supporters said it would?
AUGUST BOARD MEETING UPDATE
RRA board members at their Aug. 4 meeting approved launching a
web page at the address http://www.rra.org. The page will feature
information about RRA and upcoming events. (Detail above.) Members
also discussed a survey to be mailed out this fall. (Details below.)
Board members are considering a writing seminar with The Freedom
Forum this winter aimed at turning turgid Washington speak into lively
copy. The event would feature newspaper writing coaches and veteran
Washington hands giving useful tips and, perhaps, critiquing some RRA
The newsmakers committee and regional directors continue to plan
events with top officials. Board members plan to meet with the White
House staff to explore holding a session with President Clinton.
By Jerry Zremski
Who are you?
The Regional Reporters Association would like to know.
Sometime in the early fall, you will receive a copy of our member
survey. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and return it in the
self-addressed, stamped envelope we will enclose. By doing so, you will
give the RRA board members the guidance we need to make sure we are
serving your needs.
We're doing this survey for several reasons:
We want to get a clearer idea of the types of events that are
most helpful to you. Knowing that will help us plan productive events.
We hope to get a clearer picture of our size and scope. We will
ask print members to estimate their publication's circulation. We want to
tell prospective newsmakers that RRA reporters have a readership of X
million nationwide -- a factoid that should give us more clout in dealing
with cabinet secretaries and key figures on the Hill.
Finally, if you agree, some of your answers from the survey
will be compiled in a new RRA Member Directory. We will be asking you
about the topics you write about and the newsmakers you cover. By
printing this information in a member directory (with your permission, of
course), we hope that we can all "network" just a little bit better. If
you need advice on covering a topic that's new to you, the directory will
help you find a colleague from another part of the country who can give
you advice. And if C-SPAN or another news organization needs a regional
reporter to discuss a key issue or event, the producer could simply open
the guide and find the right person. A copy of the guide will be sent to
all members, and will be posted on our Internet site.
So when you get that survey in the mail, please don't mistake it
for another useless press release. Look at it as a small time investment
that should pay off for us all.
Survey for regionals planned
By Gerry Shields
The Regional Reporters Association will be conducting a survey of
its members to find out how the board can better serve the general
Scripps Howard News Service
The survey also will be used to measure the group's experience,
expertise and circulation strength.
Regional reporters in Washington will be asked to comment on the
kinds of events they would like the organization to plan, as well as
identify the issues they cover most. The information will then be
assembled in report form and shared among members.
The questionnaire is expected to go out through regular mail and
e-mail in September, with the findings published sometime in the fall.
Anyone with questions, suggestions or comments about the survey should
call Gerry Shields at 202-408-2705 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Schlein has a new business called Deadline Online. He's teaching
print and television journalists across the country about using online
tools -- you guessed it --
on deadline. Visit his site:
Got news? Call Jill Young Miller at (202) 824-8225 or e-mail: email@example.com
Mike Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers is headed to Yale Law School
for a year-long fellowship funded by the Knight Foundation. Doyle, 41,
will emerge from the graded, first-year classes with a master of studies
in law degree. He plans to return to McClatchy's D.C. bureau, where he
has worked since 1988.
At The Associated Press, Curt Anderson was named national farm
and food writer. Libby Quaid replaces him as AP's reporter in Washington
on the Kansas/Missouri beat. Libby moved to D.C. from Oklahoma City,
where she covered the legislature and the bombing. AP's Tom Strong has
transferred to the national staff in Washington, where he is a night
editor. Jennifer Loven, who covered Michigan politics and the state
legislature for AP, replaces him as the Illinois regional reporter.
David Lerman is the new Washington correspondent for the Daily
Press of Newport News, Va. He succeeds Bob Kemper, who now works for the
Chicago Tribune covering regional politics in the Chicago area. David
previously worked as a state capital reporter for the Daily Press in
Bill Sternberg, Washington bureau chief for Thomson Newspapers
for the past six years, has joined USA Today as Washington editor. Joe
Duffus, Thomson's former manager of information systems, joined the
Gannett Newspaper Division as an online technology specialist. Part of
his job is to help papers plan and construct web sites.
On a sad note, Kelly Richmond, a States News Service alum and
chief political writer for the Bergen County Record , has moved home to
New Mexico for cancer treatment. Doctors gave Kelly, 33, six months to
live after diagnosing him in the spring with lung cancer. Kelly has won a
national environmental reporting award for the past two years.
-- Jill Miller
EPA administrator speaks to RRA members
By Jerry Zremski
Some 135 million Americans will breathe cleaner air under
a new set of federal rules, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Carol M. Browner told members of the Regional Reporters Association.
The Buffalo News
Above all, Browner said, the new rules on ozone and
particulate matter offer a national solution to what's really a regional
"These rules will offer a significant public health
benefit to every region of the country," Browner said to 32 RRA members
at a July 15 meeting at EPA headquarters. "This is a regional problem."
During the 75-minute session, arranged exclusively for
RRA members, Browner answered several questions about how the clean air
rules will affect various regions.
The new rules aim to cut smog-causing ozone by forcing
utilities to adhere to tougher standards. Similarly, the EPA rules put
the first-ever limits on particulate matter -- fine specks of pollution
that can clog the lungs, causing respiratory problems.
Browner said the EPA rules will prevent 15,000 premature
deaths and 350,000 asthma attacks yearly. Opponents, led by the utility
industry, say the rules' health benefits are greatly exaggerated.
The RRA board has set up a newsmakers committee to
sponsor events more frequently with cabinet secretaries and congressional
Those trolling through television channels last month may have seen
familiar regional faces.
C-Span interviewed Maria Recio of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
live about the National Endowment for the Arts and congressional efforts
to kill the agency.
Next up was Mike Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers. He offered a
review and preview of the week's congressional action.
Deborah Mathis of Gannett News Service was identified July 11 as
a national correspondent on C-Span's "Washington Journal," probably
because her sub-beat is the White House. Mathis, who covers Congress for
the Springfield Daily News, and National Review's Katie O'Bierne fielded
phone calls from viewers and discussed news stories of the day.
-- Ellyn Ferguson
Sighted someone? Call Ellyn Ferguson at (703)276-5811 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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