NEWSLETTER

September 1997

You, too, can be a court reporter

By Jerry Zremski
The Buffalo News

Of the three branches of the federal government, the judicial tends to get neglected by the regional press.

To help remedy that, the Regional Reporters Association will host a session on covering the Supreme Court from a regional standpoint.
A member of the court's public information staff will begin with an overview on getting information from the court. Two seasoned Supreme Court reporters -- Roger Lowe of the Columbus Dispatch and Richard Carelli of The Associated Press -- then will discuss how to cover the court from a regional angle.
"Regionals that aren't covering the court are missing stories that you can't get anywhere else," said Lowe, who covers more than two dozen cases before the high court each year. "If we're here to explain why Washington is important, this is an area we can't miss."
Lowe typically covers major national cases and any case directly involving Ohio. Sorting through the hundreds of cases that come to the court is a challenge, but Lowe says he's been able to keep a good handle on it by following major cases back home and forging a relationship with the Ohio attorney general.
"If a case involves an Ohio company, if Ohio has joined or filed a brief, or if it somehow affects Ohio, that gives me an Ohio angle," he said. "If I can tell people why a case is important to central Ohio, it's better to run my story than The New York Times or AP story."
Carelli will discuss how AP covers the court and suggest how regionals can avoid duplicating the wires.
The Sept. 29 event, which is expected to last no more than 90 minutes, is open to RRA members only. If you are not a current member, you can pay your 1997 membership dues the morning of the event.

Mark your calendars
The event will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 29 -- just in time for the start of the new court term. Please meet at 9:45 a.m. in the Supreme Court's public information office, Room G-42, 1 First Street, NE.




Uncovering the regional break

By Pete Leffler
Allentown Morning Call

Lawmakers are quietly lining up to provide tax breaks for companies back home and, with just a few phone calls, you can write about them.
At issue is "miscellaneous tariff and trade legislation" -- unpublicized, densely written bills that cost the U.S. Treasury millions of dollars in waived tax receipts.
Roughly 80 have been filed with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees.
The research is fairly straightforward, and these stories practically write themselves.
Here's how to pick up the trail:
  • See if your lawmakers filed any. I searched "duty suspension" on Legi-Slate to get the full list. One less precise (but cheaper) option is to visit the Library of Congress web site http://thomas.loc.gov, click on "major legislation" and search "by topic" with the words "duty suspension." Or you can actually leave your seat and ask researchers in the Senate Library (still behind the Senate Radio and TV Gallery).
  • Get copies of your members' bills. If your modem won't do the walking, you can visit the Senate document room (subway level of the Hart Office Building). Reporters with congressional press passes can get copies of both Senate and House bills there.
  • Research the beneficiaries. This is easier than it might seem thanks to Leo Webb at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Webb (at 202-205-2594) analyzes each bill for the Hill tax-writing committees and is willing to share with you his written reports. They detail the product, company and cost to the Treasury. Get started by calling Nancy Carman, the commission's congressional relations officer, at 202-205-3151.
  • Check Federal Election Commission (FEC) donor and PAC databases to see if the company or its executives contributed money to the congressman who sponsored the bill. Do this yourself at FEC headquarters (999 E St., NW), ask the Center for Responsive Politics (202-857-0044) for a hand or, for the ambitious and computer-savvy, download the data from American University http://www.soc.american.edu/campfin and look it up yourself.
  • Interview the lawmaker about the bill. Ask him to justify this special treatment. Expect reactions from bewilderment to questions about your news judgment. Write 'em down.
  • Contact the corporate beneficiary for its view of why this tax break is essential. Again be ready for incredulity. Once you convince them you're serious, however, you'll find they often have interesting scenarios to relate.




    WWWeblink

    Looking for a quick statistical nugget or even a story idea? FedStats is a one-stop shopping extravaganza for federal numbers.
    The site has such great tidbits as the latest national debt figure; county maps and reams of census figures; immigration counts; traffic safety data, including fatal accidents; the sourcebook for criminal justice statistics; the federal budget; Center for Disease Control numbers on sexually transmitted diseases; veterans' funding by city or county (in Excel format); and the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of System Safety, which has access to a number of FAA databases.

    The magic link: http://www.fedstats.gov
    -- Lolita Baldor




    RRA survey

    The RRA membership survey will be sent out to members in January in conjunction with a 1998 recruiting drive. The RRA board, at its September meeting, decided to wait until then in order to first update the organization's computer database and target new members. But you don't have to wait until next winter to give us feedback. Your suggestions can help us plan events for the remainder of this year. See something interesting on a beat you cover? Do you want to learn more about a particular federal agency that's in the news? You can e-mail RRA at rrapresident [at] gmail.com Your input is encouraged and appreciated.




    Still going after 50 years: Alan Emory

    By Jerry Zremski
    The Buffalo News

    In 1977, The Washington Post called Alan Emory part of a "vanishing breed": regional correspondents for mid-size newspapers.
    Twenty years later, Emory hasn't vanished. The Washington correspondent for the Watertown Daily Times since the Truman administration, Emory is still writing one to six stories a day for his upstate New York newspaper.
    So, while Emory is certainly not part of a vanishing breed, he is an anomoly: a regional reporter with the kind of staying power most of us can't imagine.
    "You've got to work for an enterprising and caring organization," said Emory, 75, who is considering retiring at the end of next year. "And you've got to have the freedom to write and cover what you want, and instill confidence in your news sources."
    The Times' daily circulation is a mere 37,481, but that doesn't mean Emory has gone unnoticed. A recent celebration of his 50 years at the paper attracted three U.S. senators, two members of the House and 150 friends and colleagues.
    Emory even caught President Clinton's attention.
    "As dean of the New York press corps in Washington, you can be proud of your outstanding contributions to American journalism," Clinton wrote in a letter to Emory.
    Those contributions are myriad. In t he 1950s, after a congressional staffer let Emory peruse the office mail, he broke a national story about how the Pentagon wanted to take the military academy cadet selection process out of the hands of local congressional members.
    In the 1960s, he cajoled his way into the first exclusive interview given by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In the 1970s he headed the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in the 1990s he served as president of the Gridiron Club, an exclusive club of long-time Washington reporters that's famous for its annual dinner where it roasts the president and other top political figures.
    The stories Emory tells of his days in Washington could fill this newsletter. Thanks to a generous publisher, he accompanied Richard Nixon on two trips to the Soviet Union and traveled to Alaska, South America and Asia. And thanks to his own persistence and doggedness, he's a walking treasure trove of great anecdotes.
    In the late 1950s, for example, he asked President Eisenhower why he would be marking the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada rather than in the key American port town of Massena, N.Y.
    "I've been to Massena," Eisenhower replied.
    "And ever since," Emory said, "my wife and I have had this running gag. Whenever one of us doesn't want to do something we've been asked to do, we say, 'I've been to Massena.'"




    RESTIVE REGIONS

    Bill Adair joined the Washington Bureau of the St. Petersburg Times in August as congressional correspondent. He takes over for Ceci Connolly, who was recently hired as a political writer for The Washington Post. Adair comes to the bureau from the Times' downtown office, where he often broke national stories on his aviation beat. Times bureau chief David Dahl says Adair will continue to cover aviation but will dig into Congress as well. Dahl added that a second opening at the bureau has yet to be filled. That post was vacated by correspondent Ellen Debenport, who has left journalism to become a minister.
    -- Jill Miller

    Got news? Call Jill Young Miller at (202) 824-8225 or e-mail jillymill@aol.com



    August 1997 Regional Reporter

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