By Julia Wolf
I really enjoyed meeting with the Drake alums and their coworkers from those two organizations. Everybody was more than willing to answer questions.
It surprised me how different the offices of the Washington Post and the Atlantic felt. The Post is based in a stunning building with pieces from their former location sprinkled throughout the building. The office environment seemed traditional. The Atlantic had a more “hip” and very passionate vibe to it.
Matt Nelson from the Washington Post gave the five of us a short tour and a few pieces of life advice. The most notable of which was to be Midwestern nice while knowing your worth to the company. He highlighted the fact that we are capable of doing a great job, just like students from larger coastal schools are. We shouldn’t count ourselves out.
Matt Vasilogambros and his coworkers offered up similar advice. They also dove into the topic of how they might cover the Trump administration in the fairest way possible.
Gillian White, a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, talked about the difficulties journalists face when they want to compare the incoming Trump administration to the Obama administration. She pointed out that the economy Trump will face is very different from the one Obama had when he took office in 2008. Vasilogambros said the goal of The Atlantic is to step back and add context to the stories.
I found it interesting to think that a comparison, by the fact that it is a comparison alone, could lead to coverage that is not as fair or as accurate as it could be. It introduced another nuance in the business. Like the struggles of creating a political study where the results can be compared across time, questions need to be carefully formulated and a plan needs to be laid out so there can be continuance from one part to the next. Otherwise, the comparison is useless. You may not even be looking at the same thing.
To paraphrase a historian from the Holocaust museum, every time in history is unique with its own circumstances and challenges. A comparison is not always fair. The political scene we face as citizens and journalist could look very different this summer, or next year when I graduate, than it does now.
Kathy Gilsinan noted that another difficulty would be determining what Trump really means when he says something. She said Trump has seemingly contradicted himself within the same interview before. However, it is not always clear how journalists and citizens should be interpreting his comments, Gilsinan said. Loose words can have an effect on how other countries make decisions, she said. Words do have consequences.
I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to journalists that are living and working in the craziness that is the political scene of Washington DC. The day made me think about more than just the broad challenges journalists face.