Posts tagged ‘Ben Feller’

Connecting with Ben Feller

One of the secrets to good reporting—and it’s not much of a secret, really—is connecting with people. So about five minutes into Ben Feller’s talk Tuesday night at the Foster Conference of Distinguished Writers, it was pretty clear how he’d risen from general assignment reporter at the Centre Daily Times (“you should read my bear-hunting stories—they’re awesome”) to chief White House correspondent for The Associated Press.

Feller ’92, who appeared on the cover of our May/June 2009 issue, talked about visiting his dad in his campus office, eating lunch with his mom at the HUB, and his favorite bar. “To this day,” he said. “If I could pick anywhere in the world to have a beer, it would be Zeno’s.”

Connection made.

And just as everyone on the Penn State football beat has a Joe Paterno imitation, Feller displayed not only a good Barack Obama, but a pretty darn good Bill Clinton, whom he never covered in the White House. Asked if he wanted to do George W. Bush, Feller said, “Not right now,” in the voice—and with the hand motions—of The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart imitating Bush.

A young woman sitting near me exclaimed, “That was awesome!” (more…)

March 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm 7 comments

President Obama Asks for Penn State’s Help in “Winning the Future”

He was only on stage Thursday for 22 minutes, but that was plenty of time for Barack Obama to cover all the bases required for a president visiting Penn State.

Joe Paterno reference? Check. “I just met this guy,” Obama said shortly after he took the stage at Rec Hall,” I hadn’t heard of him before, but apparently he coaches your football team…”

Pointing out his own Penn State connection? Check. Obama mentioned Lt. Col. Sam Price ’95, an Air Force officer charged today with “carrying the football,” aka the nuclear launch codes the president keeps near at all times, just in case.

Giving the crowd a reason to cheer? Check. In fairness, Obama didn’t have to try all that hard to get the crowd on his side — based on his reception, the president (check our Facebook page for more photos) is still wildly popular with younger voters, who made up a sizable chunk of the 3,000 audience members in the Rec Hall stands. But the president made sure he connected with Penn Staters of all ages, and with current students in particular, by emphasizing far-reaching — and, in his words, vital — goals in his brief time at University Park.

“The reason I wanted to come here, (more…)

February 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm 2 comments

Ben Feller Honored for Coverage of President Obama

We told you Ben Feller ’92 Com was good at his job. Feller, a White House correspondent for the Associated Press, recently earned the Merriman Smith Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association for his coverage of President Obama’s secret trip to Dover Air Force Base to greet the coffins of fallen soldiers. (The photo at right shows Ben and the President at the annual WHCA dinner earlier this month.) The Dover piece also was among the work cited by the Gerald R. Ford Foundation when it honored Feller with its Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

We’ve mentioned Feller a few times in our blog, and he was our cover story in our May/June 2009 issue; now he (jokingly) credits his success to our coverage: “See what happens when you give people coverage in The Penn Stater?” Feller wrote in an e-mail. “Good things happen—I see cause and effect here!”

That’s very nice of Ben, but his success is more likely related to his being a “master of deadline reporting,” among the other accolades listed by the awards judges.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

May 19, 2010 at 9:38 am 1 comment

Ben Feller on the White House’s Unsung East Room

The Associated Press has an interesting article by Ben Feller ’92 this week. Feller is the AP White House correspondent whom we profiled in our May-June 2009 cover story. In the new article, Ben writes of a part of the White House that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but has seen its share of history: the East Room. Earth, Wind, and Fire has played there—and presidents have lain in state there. Feller’s piece looks at what he calls “the most important all-purpose room in America.”

Tina Hay, editor

September 18, 2009 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

White House Reporter Ben Feller Reminds Us That Accuracy Is Vital to His Job

Just got an email from Ben Feller ’92 Com, who I interviewed for the cover story in our May/June issue. He wrote to share a PDF link to our Q&A on the Associated Press site, and to share his story (which ran in today’s Washington Post, along with who knows how many other papers) about soaking White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a charity event on the White House lawn.


Here’s Ben’s take:

Hope all is well in the homeland. Thanks once more for the fair and generous coverage in the last issue. I’m still getting nice words my way.

Speaking of….the AP Web site now features your work, giving The Penn Stater a nice worldwide splash.

Also, I thought you’d get a kick out of what happened yesterday. Definitely a new highlight. Here is my first-person story.

Penn State proud,


He also sent a short video of his dunk-tank success, which I can’t seem to figure out how to post just now. Hopefully we can throw that up on the blog sometime Monday.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

June 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

A Cheeseburger for the President

In our May-June cover story, AP White House correspondent Ben Feller ’92 talks about what it’s like to cover the president. It involves a lot of waiting around, punctuated by moments where you have to jump in a van to follow the president to wherever he has impulsively decided to go. Today Ben got to follow the president and VP to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington for an impromptu lunch.

Be sure to check out the slide show—a somewhat over-the-top collection of 10, count ’em, 10, photos of the Leader of the Free World ordering, paying for, waiting for, and being served his cheeseburger.

Tina Hay, editor

May 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Hey Ben, You’re on the Cover


These are not finished magazines—just finished covers.

I went back to the printing plant last evening to see the May-June cover on press and take some more pictures. By the time I got there, they had already printed several thousand covers and were stacking them onto pallets to go off to the bindery. But a few thousand is a drop in the bucket—we print something like 125,000 copies of the magazine, so the cover press will keep running for several hours.

Our May-June cover story, by the way, is a feature-length Q&A with Ben Feller ’92, the White House correspondent for the Associated Press. (Senior editor Ryan Jones went down to D.C. back in February to interview Ben for that piece and to see what the press digs in the White House are like.) We had struggled to decide whether to put Ben on the cover or go with one of the other features—we were divided as a staff as to which would make the stronger cover. That’s the subject of a whole other blog posting sometime. In the end we thought readers would respond best to the Ben Feller cover.

dsc_6998-sm-signature-on-pressMeanwhile, over on another press, yet another signature (a collection of pages, all on one big sheet) from the interior of the magazine was printing, so our customer-service rep and I strolled over to see that. This time I used the camera’s built-in flash in an attempt to “freeze” the pages as they flew by. If you look closely (or click on the photo to see it bigger), you can see that a page of Pulse, some pages from Class Notes and In Memoriam, an ad or two, and a page of Sports are all ganged together on one sheet. Later they get folded and cut, and magically everything comes out right-side up and in the correct order. It’s like origami or something.


Stacks of finished sections of The Penn Stater waiting to be assembled and "stitched."

By the time I left, some guys were setting up the bindery to stitch the magazine together, although the stitching probably won’t happen until this evening, last I heard. That’s a whole other process that’s very complicated and that I only vaguely understand. A machine puts the pages in order, staples the magazines, trims them, ink-jets the names and addresses onto the back covers, stacks the copies, and puts the stacks into bundles organized by zip code and down to the mail carrier’s house-to-house walking path. It’s all very high-tech.

The last photo shows stacks of Penn Stater signatures ready to go on the stitcher—even as thousands more Penn Stater signatures are still being printed in another part of the plant. The stitching assembly line, and the guys setting it up, are in the background.

By Thursday or Friday of this week, readers will start getting their copies of the May-June issue. The farther away you live from Strasburg, Va., the longer it’ll take for the magazine to get to you. So if you’re in, say, California or Florida, give it a week or so.

Tina Hay, editor

April 21, 2009 at 10:33 am 1 comment

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