November 1998

Editor's note: In conjunction with The Regional Reporters Association's membership drive, the RRA board decided to cut non-dues paying members from its mailing list and programs in order to provide an incentive for continued membership. Toward this end, the board decided to test limiting free access to the online monthly newsletter. The Web version of the newsletter will only include the main story, headlines, Restive Regions and a few other offerings. Full coverage is still available in the mailed version. If you feel strongly about the issue, please let us know by e-mailing RRA..

RRA marks 10th year with panels

By Ellyn Ferguson
Gannett News Service

Anger and frustration prompted a band of Washington-based journalists to form the Regional Reporters Association in 1988.

They were pioneers in a journalism trend that baffled official Washington: Reporters in Washington who looked for regional and hometown angles in national stories. Since they were neither national nor hometown reporters, regionals often found themselves ignored.

Sean Griffin, RRA's first president, said the decision to organize was motivated "by a growing realization that there was a caste system, that it was hard to get past the receptionist desk in official Washington."

As the group got active, newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post wrote about the RRA.

"Doors began to open," Griffin said.

On Dec. 14, the RRA will mark a decade of serving as a voice for reporters who cover Washington for readers beyond the Beltway. With the Freedom Forum as a co-sponsor, RRA is holding a four-hour review of regional reporting - past, present and future.

The event at the Freedom Forum will start at 9 a.m., beginning with breakfast and a question-and-answer session with James Rosen of the Raleigh News & Observer, the 1998 winner of the Robin Goldstein Washington Reporting Award.

From 9:30 a.m. to noon, panels moderated by Griffin and Gene Roberts, former New York Times managing editor, will examine the role of regional reporters and the value editors and the public place on Washington reporting.

One panelist is Rep. Paul McHale, a Pennsylvania Democrat who found himself under scrutiny when he called for President Clinton's resignation because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He will critique Washington coverage.

Question-and-answer sessions will follow each panel.

At 12:30 p.m., David Broder, the Washington Post columnist and veteran political reporter, will deliver the keynote speech. Lunch will be served.

Invitations will be sent out this month.

When does a question cross the line? Deciding whether to get personal

By Dina ElBoghdady
The Detroit News

In Brief

Board minutes - November 9, 1998

Carl Weiser reported on RRA's successful participation in a focus group held by the Census Bureau as the agency prepares to release new economic data next year. RRA received $1,000 because participants agreed to let Census pay the association rather than take the money themselves. RRA plans to use the money towards the 10th anniversary event.

President Christine Dorsey provided the latest update on planning for the 10th anniversary event to be held at the Freedom Forum Dec. 14. Invitations are expected to be mailed shortly.

The confirmed participants include: David Broder of The Washington Post; RRA founding members Tom Brazaitis and Sean Griffin; retiring U.S. Rep. Paul McHale, D-Pa., a critic of Washington reporters; and University of Maryland journalism professor Gene Roberts, who led The Philadelphia Inquirer to 17 Pulitzer Prizes.

Brett Lieberman, president of the Regional Reporters Education Foundation, informed the board that RREF was not pursuing extra funding for the 10th anniversary event. Dorsey and Weiser said they did not think additional funding was needed.

The board will approve RRA's 1999 budget at its December meeting.

Weiser and Onell Soto briefed the board on tentative events with representatives of the Health Care Financing Administration and Fish & Wildlife Service. The board also expressed interest in pursuing an RRA event with the new House speaker.

The next meeting was set for Dec. 7 at noon.

President's Report

Come one, come all to celebrate 10

By Christine Dorsey
Donrey Media Group

I'm a newcomer to Washington.

I've been in town three and a half years, and I'm still learning the ropes. Compared with the likes of Alan Emory or Tom Brazaitis, I'm a neophyte in the world of Washington journalism.

But I have learned one thing: Washington is an ever-changing environment. As the latest elections and aftermath have proven, nothing is certain in Washington. No matter how long you've been here, something is sure to surprise you.

It sometimes gives me comfort to know that no matter how long some of my colleagues have been here, they, like I, have to start from scratch every two years. We must get acquainted with new lawmakers, brush up on new legislative initiatives and memorize a new slate of political leaders.

I realize I'm being a bit biased here, but RRA has been a tremendous help to me in the last few years. Not only did I learn about the Paul Miller Fellowship through RRA, I also met some excellent reporters whom I've tried to learn from and emulate.

As you know, RRA is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Included in this newsletter is a rundown of the December event we are hosting to commemorate the organization's humble beginning. We've lined up some of the finest journalists on the beat, as well as others who can give some perspective on regional reporting.

David Broder of The Washington Post will give the keynote address at lunch. We chose David not only for his prominence in the field but also because he has managed to bring a regional perspective to national stories. He thinks beyond the Beltway and writes with average readers in mind.

Other speakers include former and current regional reporters, educators and one retiring lawmaker who all will discuss the good - and the bad - aspects of reporting from Washington.

We on the RRA board hope you will make time Monday, Dec. 14, to join us at the Freedom Forum to celebrate a decade of RRA.

Use the event as an opportunity to get reacquainted with colleagues you don't often have time to see, network with other reporters on your beat and learn a thing or two about this unique and challenging beat we call regional reporting.

RRA president Christine Dorsey can be reached at (202) 783-1760 or by e-mail,


Looking for a factoid?

My Virtual Reference Desk is one of the most expansive reference sites around.

It includes links to all the latest editions of reference books you should have on your desk, but haven't had the money or time to buy. The links include Roget's Thesaurus, Funk & Wagnalls, Bartlett's Quotations, World Fact Book and the Daily Almanac.

In addition, reference links are broken down into 50 different subject categories. A look at "education" found links to everything from college rankings to elementary schools with home pages.

You'll also find such handy items as The Atomic Clock, links to transcripts for television talk shows and a unit converter (when you want to know how hot it is and you need to convert Celsius into Fahrenheit.)

It also has one of the better all-inclusive journalism pages. It provides hundreds of links to papers, all major columnists and a wide array of news features - from This Day in History to lottery results.

MVRD can be found at:

-- Lolita Baldor,
New Haven Register

Have a link to share? E-mail it to Lolita Baldor

October 1998 Regional Reporter

September 1998 Regional Reporter

August 1998 Regional Reporter

July 1998 Regional Reporter

June 1998 Regional Reporter

May 1998 Regional Reporter

April 1998 Regional Reporter

March 1998 Regional Reporter

February 1998 Regional Reporter

January 1998 Regional Reporter

December 1997 Regional Reporter

November 1997 Regional Reporter

October 1997 Regional Reporter

September 1997 Regional Reporter

August 1997 Regional Reporter

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