Friday, October 31, 2008


In transit from Washington, D.C. to Anchorage—

A number of people have said nice things about this blog’s coverage of the Ted Stevens trial, and
I thank each of you have left comments or sent e-mails.

I also want to express my appreciation to those who made that coverage possible. Before the trial started, I knew essentially none of the more than 25 reporters, correspondents, and television producers who brought this major event to the public. A number of them were veterans in covering the Washington scene, and some took the time to show me the ropes around the courthouse and gave me tips about the area. I spoke about this case with many of these journalists—some from D.C. and some from Alaska—and those discussions sharpened my thinking and improved this blog.

So—at the risk of making this sound like the Oscars—I particularly want to thank Rick Schmitt of the Los Angeles Times; John Bresnahan and Marty Kady of the Politico; Brian Hughes of the Scripps Howard Foundation; Brent Kendall of the Wall Street Journal; Matt Apuzzo, Jesse Holland, and Tom Hays of the Associated Press; Rich Mauer and Erika Bolstad of the Anchorage Daily News and McClatchy Newspapers; Carl Sears of NBC News; Paul Singer and Jennifer Yachnin of Roll Call; Libby Casey of the Alaska Public Radio Network; Cary O’Reilly of Bloomberg News; Jill Burke of KTUU-TV; Kate Hunter of Congressional Quarterly; Paul Courson of CNN; Manu Raju of The Hill; Fred Graham of In Session; Tom Ramstack of the Washington Times; Del Quentin Wilber and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post; Jason Ryan of ABC News; Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio; and Deirdre Hester of CBS News.

The efforts of all the journalists covering the trial impressed me particularly because I was struck by how difficult it was to write quickly and accurately for daily publication. I have never worked harder and under more pressure for such a long period as I have in covering this five-week trial. I marvel at those who do this job regularly with insight and style.

The production of high-quality work is particularly noteworthy given these tough times for the media business. American newspapers are hemorrhaging readers and advertising, and cutbacks have come across the country. Both print publications and TV newscasts face pressures from the Internet as many people—particularly the young—go online to get news and information. Threats of layoffs stalk even some of the fine journalists who have covered this trial.

Given all that, the many kindnesses these dedicated and hard-pressed professionals showed an amateur like me showed generosity indeed.

Although the business environment for journalism ranges from tricky to grim, the working conditions for the media at the courthouse were sweet. Shelly Snook and Jenna Gatski are the court employees responsible for helping journalists, and they are two of the most pleasant and efficient people you could hope to meet.

Final thanks go to six other people who made possible this blog’s coverage of the trial. Terry Gardiner marries the inspirational and the practical in one high-energy package. He edited most of my posts, and is responsible for much of what is good about this blog and little of what is not.

Terry and his wife Linda—both former Alaskans—made my coverage of this trial possible by moving to a Capitol Hill apartment a mile from the courthouse just before jury selection started. I was very lucky to have nicely cooked dinners waiting for me every night upon my return from court. Linda’s common sense and good cheer were very helpful in keeping Terry and me grounded during a high-stress period.

Tony Hopfinger of the Alaska Dispatch ( published a number of the posts from this blog’s coverage of the trial.

Laura McGann of the Washington Independent and my sister Betsy Ptak both encouraged me to start blogging during this trial, and both gave me useful suggestions in how to do it.

And the first and most persistent person to suggest that I start blogging was the fabulous Theresa Philbrick, who helped publicize this blog by sending it around to journalists and provided valuable long-distance encouragement and advice.

OK, enough sentiment.

Next up: Who else will face Justice in the ongoing federal investigation into public corruption in Alaska?


funhog and fundogs said...

I would like to add my thanks. Your information and insights made this trial not only alot more interesting but gave me a better understanding of what was taking place. Thanks and congratulations.

Matt said...

Travel safe, Cliff. Stay warm out there.