Center on Congress Offers Seminar to Help Journalists Inform Citizens About the Federal Budget Process

 Journalist's Seminar Press Release [PDF]



Center on Congress Offers Seminar to Help Journalists Inform Citizens About the Federal Budget Process


BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Jan. 24 — To encourage the media to pay more attention to the federal budget's impact on every American, the Center on Congress brought together prominent experts to explain the complicated budget process to journalists, and to give reporters tips on producing stories that will help citizens see how spending and taxing decisions in Washington, D.C., affect local communities.

"The media have a special responsibility to expose and explain the budget process and other workings of government to a general audience," said Lee Hamilton, Director of the Center on Congress. "Good journalism is at the heart of making democracy work. It can educate the people, help them make better-informed and more discerning judgments."

The Center partnered with the National Press Foundation and the Regional Reporters Association to host a half-day seminar, "Covering the Federal Budget in a Democratic Congress," in Washington on Jan. 22.

The seminar drew a capacity crowd of journalists, and to share the information with a broader audience, the Center will post a recording of the seminar presentations and Q & A sessions on its website,

This seminar is part of the Center's continuing effort to reach out to journalists. A year ago in Washington, the Center hosted its inaugural "how to" seminar on covering the budget. In 2005 in Indianapolis, the Center brought together Indiana reporters and editors for a seminar on how to improve the quality of local media coverage of Congress. The National Press Foundation has collaborated with the Center in all three programs.

This year, spending and taxing decisions for the nation are being worked out by a divided government — a Republican president and a Democratic-controlled Congress. Hamilton challenged the journalists at the Jan. 22 seminar "to convey to your audience that the needs of a democratic society are best served when there is tension and strong interaction between the two policy-making branches of government. The legislative branch should play a more active role in shaping the budget. For too long, Congress has ceded too much influence in budgeting to the executive branch."

The seminar featured presentations by veteran insiders of the budget process on Capitol Hill, including:
– Joseph Minarik, Senior VP and Director of Research at the Committee for Economic Development, and a former top staffer with the House Budget Committee and the Office of Management and Budget.
– Tom Kahn, Staff Director of the House Budget Committee.
– David Pomerantz, Deputy Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee.
– Donald Wolfensberger, Director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and former Chief of Staff of the House Rules Committee.

Also, a pair of journalists with years of experience covering the budget — David Espo of the Associated Press and Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times — offered advice and tips and took audience questions moderated by Suzanne Struglinski, a reporter for theDeseret Morning News and president of the Regional Reporters Association.