Posts tagged ‘White House’
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.”
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…)
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
Another day, another Penn Stater named a presidential appointee. The latest is Paul Martin ’82, currently Deputy Inspector General at the Department of Justice, who has just been nominated by President Obama for the post of Inspector General at NASA.
Martin majored in journalism at Penn State and then went on to get a law degree from Georgetown.
If this goes through, I’ve got a feeling Tina may get greedy and ask for a window seat on the next Space Shuttle.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
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
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.
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
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
In looking on the Web at some of the news coverage of today’s historic presidential Inauguration, I was curious to see which part of the day’s events Ben Feller ’92 is covering. Ben is the Penn State journalism grad who has been White House correspondent for the Associated Press for a number of years. Looks like poor Ben drew the short straw today; the story he filed is about Joe Biden becoming the nation’s 47th vice president.
Maybe Ben will get to attend some fun inaugural balls tonight or something.
Tina Hay, editor
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