Decode DC with Andrea Seabrook

Jan 2, 2013

What does it mean to DecodeDC? 

Longtime NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook declares independence.

Andrea Seabrook, who covered Capitol Hill for NPR for a decade, has launched an independent reporting project called DecodeDC – and now, you can hear her reports on KALW every other Thursday at 5:30pm, right after Crosscurrents

Andrea was a guest on Your Call’s media roundtable in December – here’s some of what she had to say about Washington, the news media, and her aims for DecodeDC:

"Over the last thirty years the politicians and the parties have gotten so sophisticated at messaging, at p.r., and I don’t think we, the journalists, have caught up with that.  Instead, our budgets have gone down – there’s less money and fewer of us, and so . . . . we end up recording their press conferences and playing those soundbites back to our listeners, which I don’t think does them much of a service because we don’t have the time or the space or the resources to say, 'What this man is saying right here it’s mostly crap.  He’s just trying to spin you.'

"It requires a decision by the news organization to say:  We’re not going to blankly cover press conferences as if they’re news any more.  We’re going to cover the situation and explain it with more depth.  There are news organizations that are better than others.  I think NPR is among the best – the gold standard.  But it’s not good enough.  We haven’t evolved with the messaging of the parties.

"I have made a pact with myself that I won’t cover press conferences as if they’re news.  I’m much more interested in what the possibilities are, how we here in the first place.  The way I see it, covering government as a functioning entity is false.  Politics, particularly Congress, is broken.  And if we cover its products as anything but the products of a broken system, then we aren’t telling the real story of the place.  So that’s what I focus on now."

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