How Did We Miss This Guy?
I was reading an Associated Press story the other day, an analysis of President Bush’s tenure in the White House, and the name of the reporter—Ben Feller—struck me as oddly familiar. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I vaguely remembered that he might be a Penn Stater. Sure enough, the alumni database says that Ben Feller ’92, a journalism grad, is a White House reporter for the AP. (Or maybe the White House reporter; I’m not sure.)
His story about President Bush is pretty interesting, by the way, and kinder than what a lot of the media are saying about Bush. For example:
In sessions with policy experts, Bush tends to ask questions that get right to the nub of a sticky issue. His top aides speak regretfully about how the country never got to see that side of him, even after all this time.
It also offers some behind-the-scenes peeks, like this:
He shows consideration to people close to him in little ways. He sends birthday notes to staff members. He remembers little details about their families. When he visits an Army post to thank the troops, he’s been known to wander into the kitchen, too, to praise whoever cooked him the french fries.
He likes to back-slap people. And when he’s ready to move on, there are telltale signs. To end an event with visitors, he’ll say, “Let’s get a picture,” and that’s that.
I don’t remember why I had an inkling that Ben Feller might be a Penn State grad—someone must have told me about him at some point, but I must have forgotten about it. That’s the thing about being alumni-magazine editor at a school with nearly 470,000 living alumni: You tend to not be able to keep track of everyone. Anyway, we’re excited to have discovered (albeit not for the first time, apparently) that the AP White House reporter is a Penn State grad, and we’re talking about what we might do with that. At the very least, he could be one of those mini-profiles we scatter throughout Class Notes. But he could be more—for example, he could make for a very interesting feature-length Q&A. I bet he has some very interesting stories to tell.
Ben doesn’t know any of this; we haven’t tried to contact him yet. It’s just one of dozens and dozens of story ideas that are floating around the office at any given time. Some of the ideas turn into actual stories, and some don’t.
You can see some of Ben’s recent stories here. And you can see a humorous little tale from a year ago of Ben’s battle with stomach distress (and the President’s concern about it) here. The latter is a long blog entry from the Houston Chronicle; you have to scroll pretty far down to find the Ben stuff, which is in the entry dated Feb. 21, 2008.
Tina Hay, editor