White House Staff and Press Give Grad Students Inside Look
February 18, 2011 – Two veterans of the White House – CBS Chief White House correspondent Chip Reid and former deputy press secretary Tony Fratto – are teaching a graduate journalism course at Georgetown called The White House and the Press.
Fratto, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration, and Reid are offering students in the Master of Professional Studies in Journalism program a behind-the-scenes West Wing-style look at what it’s like to participate in a press briefing and the view from behind the podium.
“I want each person in this class to be able to walk into the press briefing room, sit down in one of the seats, and be able to do the job,” Reid says.
Fratto says he wants students to know “What we do, how we do it, and what we are thinking as we decide what to do.”
White House Visit
Students from the graduate program, part of Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS), visited both the White House press briefing room and the CBS News workspace on Feb. 10.
During their visit, the would-be journalists and communications staffers spoke with the current White House deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest.
“He told us about his career prior to becoming the deputy press secretary for President Obama and how important it was for the president to stay on task with some of his pre-planned events while also responding to the events in Cairo,” says Delece Smith-Barrow (G’11), who works as an editor at the Washington Post. “On the day of our class visit, President Hosni Mubarak had conceded power to Omar Suleiman, so it was a major news day.”
SCS Associate Dean Denise Li says she designed the course to expose students to the nexus of politics, public policy and journalism in Washington, D.C.
“What’s most exciting so far is the way the class has used the amazing events of the past few weeks to get to the heart of how the White House and the press deal with news and crises,” she says.
Kristilyn Whigham (G’11) has already interned with the First Lady’s communications office.
“We’re not just reading something out of a book,” she says of the course. “We are learning from two individuals with real experience. [They] are so full of knowledge you really feel like you are getting an insider perspective on how the White House operates.”