White House Press Pool – round 3

How fitting that my first week and last week as a political reporting intern at Newsday took me to one of the centers of national politics – the White House. Monday marked my third and final gig as a press pool reporter.

A short recap – my first time in the pool included a trip in the presidential motorcade to Gettysburg with Bush and friends. The next month, I watched Bush speak at the Chamber of Commerce and in the Rose Garden. This week, I covered Bush’s remarks at a Menorah lighting ceremony in the White House Grand Foyer.

I arrived early Monday to watch Marine 1 – carrying Bush home from his trip to Iraq and Afghanistan Monday – land in the South Lawn.

Waiting on the South Lawn driveway for the chopper to arrive. A nice woman with Entertainment Tonight snapped this for me. She was at the White House with a big ET crew for an interview with Laura Bush earlier that day.

Waiting on the South Lawn driveway for the chopper to arrive. A nice woman with Entertainment Tonight snapped this for me. She was at the White House with a big ET crew for an interview with Laura Bush earlier that day.

Marine 1 coming in to land on the White House South Lawn accompanied by another helicopter.

Marine 1 approaching the White House South Lawn accompanied by a companion helicopter. Two helicopters actually traveled with Marine 1 that day, but the other had already flown away at this point. Marine 1 never travels alone.

Turning around for the landing.

Turning around for the landing.

Safe and sound on the landing pads.

Safe and sound.

President Bush waves to the crowd of onlookers.

President Bush waves to the crowd of onlookers.

Crowd claps for Bush as he walks to the White House.

Crowd claps for Bush as he walks to the White House. For the most part, the people you see clapping are guests - maybe some staffers. With the exception of a few photographers, most of the White House press is behind me waiting for Press Secretary Dana Perino to leave the helicopter and walk past them on her way to the West Wing. Everyone wanted to see how bad her eye injury looked - a lighting device hit her during the scuffle when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush over the weekend. I wasn't positioned well enough to get a picture of her.

Watching the helicopter land was just for fun. I headed back to the press area to get ready for a pool event - covering the annual Menorah lighting ceremony in the White House.

Watching the helicopter land was just for fun. I headed back to the press area to get ready for a pool event - covering the annual Menorah lighting ceremony in the White House.

Finally got to walk in the actual front doors of the White House.

First time walking through the actual front doors of the White House.

Christmas trees in the Grand Foyer on both sides of the front door.

Christmas trees in the Grand Foyer on both sides of the front door.

Sen. Joe Lieberman mingling with other guests.

Sen. Joe Lieberman mingling with other guests.

Guests waiting for President Bush and the first lady.

Guests waiting for President Bush and the first lady.

Bush spoke about the tradition of Hanukkah and the relationship between Israel and the United States.

Bush spoke about the tradition of Hanukkah and the relationship between Israel and the United States. That Menorah was actually a gift from Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to President Harry Truman in 1951. Grandsons of the two mean lit the Menorah at the ceremony.

Jewish a cappella group Kol Zimra performed a medley of songs after the lighting of the Menorah.

Jewish a cappella group Kol Zimra performed a medley of songs - complete with beat boxing and hand clapping - after the lighting of the Menorah.

Bush poses with the group.

Bush poses with the group.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush leaving the ceremony.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush leaving the ceremony.

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Scenes from the White House

I’m slated for White House press pool duty next week – my third and final during this internship. So in honor of my last day at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as a Newsday intern, I figured I’d post some pictures from my most recent press pool experience.

Goodmorning, White House.

Good morning, White House. I snapped this after the pool got back from watching Bush give an early morning speech at the Chamber of Commerce. Fun story - we traveled to the Chamber with Bush's motorcade, but he got dropped off at a back door while the rest of made a mad dash for the building, trying to reach the ballroom before he started his speech. I wish I could have snapped a shot of all of us running down the sidewalk in our nice suits with reporter notebooks and camera gear in hand. We arrived just as a man on stage said, "And now, the president of the United States."

A reporter doing her thing inside the White House gates. Broadcast news organizations have a reserved strip off the driveway where they film reports with the White House in the background.

A reporter doing her thing inside the White House gates. Broadcast news organizations have a reserved strip off the driveway where they film reports with the White House in the background.

Entrance to the press briefing room (no, we don't get to walk in the front door of the White House).

Entrance to the press briefing room - no, we don't get to walk in the front door of the White House.

Waiting in the Rose Garden for President Bush to come out for a press conference.

Waiting in the Rose Garden for President Bush to come out for a press conference.

My friend McKenna was also covering the press conference that day.

My friend McKenna was also covering the press conference that day. He's in my intern class with the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism.

A beautiful day in the Rose Garden.... still waiting for Bush and company to come out.

A beautiful day in the Rose Garden.... still waiting for the press conference to begin.

President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and another guy (I forget who he is) walk out of the West Wing to the Rose Garden.

President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff walk out to the Rose Garden.

Bush with representatives from different countries in the Rose Garden as he announces a new visa waiver program.

Bush announced a new visa waiver program that would help ease visa requirements with certain countries for tourism- and business-related travel. Behind him are representatives from various countries who participated in the new program.

***McKenna took this picture with his nice camera, which shows just how inadequate my point and shoot really is. A fabulous picture of Bush and Condoleezza Rice head offstage and back toward the White House.

***McKenna took this picture with his nice camera, which shows just how inadequate my point and shoot really is. A fabulous picture of Bush and Condoleezza Rice as they head offstage and back toward the White House.

I had some time to kill before press pool duties resumed, so McKenna and I took pictures in the Press Briefing room. Presidents and press secretaries have delivered the news and answered the media's tough questions from that podium.

After the news conference, I had some time to kill before press pool duties resumed. McKenna and I took pictures in the Press Briefing room. Presidents and press secretaries have delivered the news and answered some of the media's toughest questions from that podium.

Me and McKenna pose for a shot behind the podium. He's in my intern class with the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism.

A nice White House reporter snapped this for us.

I’m hoping for another exciting day at the White House next week.

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To young journalists (like me) – don’t give up

A friend asked me to describe my favorite and least-favorite things about the news industry for a paper she’s writing. I know she just needed a quick quote, but I couldn’t stop writing….

“Lately it feels like every day I read the same story – no good news for the news business. Just today, Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy and The New York Times Co.’s future is looking bleak as well. In the midst of countless layoffs and paper closings, it’s sometimes hard to see the positive side of journalism. Newspapers are shrinking their staffs, and many who remain are forced to grapple with a shift away from in-depth enterprise reporting in favor of quick-hit stories that drive online readership. The ultimate effect is a drop in quality.
 
A print reporter at heart, this is one of my biggest concerns about the news industry. Newspapers traditionally pride themselves on not just getting the story – but going beyond the surface for an analytical look at a myriad of topics. I worry that attention to detail is waning, and that scares me for the future of the business.
 
But while it may seem like a mere flicker, there is a light at the end of the dreary tunnel for journalists. The best thing about the industry right now is its possibilities. The news business is changing, and for young reporters like myself, that means a world of new opportunities to tell stories in compelling, inventive ways. I think a strong core of journalists will emerge from this recent downturn focused on upholding journalism and all it stands for in a new era.”

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Billy Joel’s take on presidential politics

I covered Billy Joel’s appearance at the National Press Club last week where he was slated to talk about celebrity endorsements of political candidates. The hour-long conversation/mini-concert moved from politics to an entertaining peek into his life and musical career. It was one of those assignments where I was pleasantly surprised at its unpredictability. I got the story … and I got to hear Joel play and sing snippets of hits and “Summer, Highland Falls” all the way through to an audience of no more than about 300.

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The final sprint

Can you believe the presidential election is a week away? Living in DC, interning at Newsday, working with reporters who cover this stuff every day… It’s hard to imagine not constantly thinking and talking about this election. A lot of people have compared it to a marathon. I ran a 13-mile road race a couple of years ago, and let me tell you, no matter what they say, it hurts until the very end. But in my experience, once you can see the finish line, the mood lightens and you get that final jolt of energy. After weeks of effort and slight panic that my county clerk forgot me, I finally got my absentee ballot in the mail today. My election finish line is here! All of you voters heading to the polls in person need one more week of endurance. And as for Obama and McCain – whoever wins (if he’s doing his job) won’t stop sprinting for another four-eight years, he’ll just get a quick water break before the real race begins. At least the view is nice…

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Adventure buddies

It’s been a while – I apologize – DC is wonderful and beautiful and keeping me very occupied. I’ve been spending my weekends with some pretty amazing fellow WCPJ interns. We’ve got a diverse group from all over the country – Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, New York, Georgia and Illinois to name a few. A couple of them make fun of my accent, and on the rare occasion I slip “y’all” into a conversation, they’re quick to point out that I am indeed from Kentucky. So glad I hang with such a perceptive bunch.

Melissa and me out on the town

Melissa and me out on the town for McKenna's birthday

Kyle (left) and McKenna out in Chinatown for McKenna's birthday

Kyle (left) and McKenna out in Chinatown for the birthday celebrations

Laura and me at our Big Lebowski party

Laura and me at the interns' Big Lebowski party

More from the Lebowski fun night ... "Over the line"

More from the Lebowski fun night ... "Over the line"

Enjoying the show at McKenna's house

Enjoying the show at McKenna’s and Bob’s house

Kyle, Melissa and me on the amazing terrace at the Newseum

Kyle, Melissa and me on the amazing terrace at the Newseum

There are a couple of other friends I hang with just about every weekend, but for some reason we don’t have any pictures together. I’ll get on that. But let’s get back to the Newseum … a pretty amazing place. If you’re at all interested in news, history or general awesomeness, you have to check this place out. They have front pages from around the country on display outside the building – I spotted the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader, made me miss home.

They love interactive exhibits at the Newseum. You can host your own broadcast or give a weather forecast on screen. We preferred the ethics section, where a high-tech game put your ethical barometer to the test.

Kyle and Melissa exercising their ethical know-how at the Newseum

Kyle and Melissa exercising their ethical know-how

Wall of 9/12/01 front pages - pretty interesting to have them all lined up like that and see the different approaches newspapers used to convey the devastation of the 9/11 attacks.

Wall of 9/12/01 front pages - pretty interesting to have them lined up like that and see the different approaches newspapers used to convey the devastation of the 9/11 attacks.

Newseum's piece of the Berlin Wall

Newseum's little chunk of the Berlin Wall

The Newseum's terrace has a great view of the Capitol.

The Newseum's terrace has a great view of the Capitol. I'm up on Capitol Hill at least once or twice a week for work - it never gets old.

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Adams Morgan Day Festival

I’m still trying to get acquainted with DC and all its neighborhoods. So much to see – why are weekends only two days long? I decided to experience Adams Morgan by way of its annual festival celebrating diversity and creativity. It didn’t disappoint. Plenty of street vendors were on hand selling everything from jewelry to handmade scarves to stained glass creations.

Supposedly there was live jazz music in a nearby park, but I ran out of time before I found it. I did however find a rap concert at one end of the festival. And at the other, a dance troupe (originally from Ghana) performed native dances to the beat of live drummers. It was pretty amazing.


I caught up with some of my fellow interns at the festival, and we agreed – Adams Morgan is probably one of the best neighborhoods in the city.

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