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.
Mark your calendars
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.
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
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.
Allentown Morning Call
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
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.
Looking for a quick statistical nugget or even a story idea? FedStats is
a one-stop shopping extravaganza for federal numbers.
The magic link: http://www.fedstats.gov
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
-- Lolita Baldor
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
firstname.lastname@example.org Your input is encouraged and appreciated.
Still going after 50 years: Alan Emory
By Jerry Zremski
In 1977, The Washington Post called Alan Emory part of a
"vanishing breed": regional correspondents for mid-size newspapers.
The Buffalo News
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
"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.'"
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.
Got news? Call Jill Young Miller at (202) 824-8225 or e-mail email@example.com
-- Jill Miller
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