From the Senate stakeout Subway to Hallway Walk-and-Talks

By Dean’s Intern James Marshall at The Durango Herald

James Marshall interviews Rep Scott Tipton

James Marshall, right, interviews Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents the Western Slope of Colorado in Congress.

I raced into the hallway after a contentious markup in the House Natural Resources Committee. I needed to track down Rep. Joe Neguse, whose enormous Colorado wilderness bill had just been approved by the committee in a vote along party lines. I found the Colorado Democrat walking hastily, as he was late for another vote.

He agreed to walk and talk after I told him I was with The Durango Herald. I nearly ran out of breath as we descended three flights of stairs and made a pit stop in his office while we talked about public lands in Colorado. By the time we finished the interview I found myself lost in a basement hallway between somewhere between the Capitol and a House office building.

Part of reporting on Capitol Hill is simply knowing when and where lawmakers are going to be. Whether it’s in the hallway after a committee hearing or at the Senate “stakeout subway” after senators vote on the floor, getting face time with sources can make all the difference in a story.

The Herald has allowed me to cover different types of stores: from breaking news to enterprise pieces. There was the time a senator from New Mexico’s candid hallway comments about a utility cooperative in Durango led me to taking an in-depth look at the co-op’s less-than-green track record. There was my breaking news coverage of the Bureau of Land Management’s move to Grand Junction, Colorado. And there is the ongoing saga of Colorado wilderness legislation.

With my remaining time at the Herald, I’ll shift my focus from Congress to the 2020 elections. It’s been a tremendous opportunity to hone my political reporting skills and develop my newer interests such as data and environmental reporting.