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Christopher Dorobek: The FishbowlDC Interview

dorobek2.jpgSay hello to Chris Dorobek, editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week.

What word do you routinely misspell? For awhile, it was Guiliani… er, Giuliani. I guess I don’t have to worry about that one for awhile.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? I’m a gadget guy, so I’ve downloaded a few on to my iPhone. Right now, I’m using Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation” — JXL remix version, to be precise, but I may soon move on to Madonna singing “Hung up” (cute, hmmm?)… Nina Simmon’s “Sinnerman” (the Felix Da Housecat’s remix). But I recently saw that the National Zoo now is offering ring tones of animals, so the next one may just be Great Panda Mei Xiang… or a Hyena. I don’t know if I can get them on my iPhone, but… how cool is that?

What time did you get up this morning? 6a to the docile tones of NPR’s Carl Kasell telling me what has happened in the world. And then welcoming Imus back to DC radio. (Yes, I go from NPR to Imus to WTOP.)

When did you last cry and why? To be honest, a lot lately. I had a fire in my house recently that has caused significant damage — we’ll be out of there for at least a year… and if we’re being told a year, you pretty much know it’s longer then that. It is a surreal experience, particularly for a reporter. Early in my reporting career at Foster’s Daily Democrat in southern New Hampshire, I covered these kinds of things and I remember the faces on families as they watched their stuff burn. It is so strange to have it happen to you. And it is so odd to have to start over from the ground up, replacing clothes — even your toiletries. You get a lot of perspective… and I have a whole new empathy for the people we cover each and every day. Probably not a bad thing. And then, 10 days later, I had to put my 15-year-old Beagle down. I’m pretty sure we’re now celebrating the Dorobek fiscal year, so… happy new year!

How many emails do you receive a day, roughly? Anywhere from 100 to 250 — maybe more. That includes a ton o’ spam, but… I had to get off our corporate spam filter because it was blocking stuff or stuff was just totally disappearing, so if anybody has found a good spam filter, I’d love to hear about it. I just had too much stuff disappearing altogether — poof!

What’s your favorite letter? I’ve always liked the little used letters — Z, Q, X, even W sometimes. They just seems so…exotic. (And a lot of points in Scrabble.)

What single person played the biggest role / had the biggest influence on your journalism career? There can’t be just one, but…My step-father, who got me hooked on news at the age of 13; Ted Koppel, who, as anchor of Nightline during the Iranian hostage situation, was a model for a budding high school journalist on how to interview; Rod Doherty, the long-time editor of Foster’s Daily Democrat in Dover, NH, who gave me my first full-time reporting job and continues to be a firm believer that journalism has to matter in people’s lives; Vanessa Roberts, who got me started in covering government technology; Finally, there are a handful of people who have such passion for what they do. That kind of passion is infectious… and it makes all of us do better. (So, I kept it to only three, plus a whole bunch of people!)

Read the rest when you click below…(and see previous FishbowlDC interviews: Julie Mason, David Shuster, Joe Curl, Alex Pareene, Peter Beinart, Jonah Goldberg, Megyn Kendall, Ana Marie Cox, Jim Brady, Howard Mortman, Amy Argetsinger, Jose Antonio Vargas, Chuck Todd, Tom Gottlieb, Kelly Ann Collins, David von Drehle, David Lat, Mark Leibovich, Zain Verjee, David Plotz, Paul Kane, Karen Travers, Mark Halperin, Hugo Gurdon, Greg Kelly,Ken Rudin, John Dickerson, Anne Schroeder, Spencer Ackerman, Bret Baier, Bob Sellers, Greta van Susteren, Danielle Jones, Jonathan Salant, John McCalla, Pam Hess, Ryan Grim, Marc Ambinder, Marty Kady, Jack Shafer, Annie Lou Bayly, Jerry Zremski, Charlie Cook, Dave Hughes, Howard Fineman, Katie Tarbox, Mark Segraves, Chris Cillizza, Tom Sietsema, Bill Triplett, Robin Givhan, David Brody, Norah O’Donnell, Carl Cannon, Jordan Lieberman, David Folkenflik, Molly Henneberg, Ernesto Londono, Brody Mullins, Aaron Blake, Martha Raddatz, Andrew Sullivan, Christina Bellantoni, Shane Harris, Nora McAlvanah, Adam Nagourney, Erin McPike, Mike Memoli, Ju-Don Marshall Roberts, Arthur Delaney, Chris Mincher, Rachel Sklar, Laura Sullivan, Jeff Kosseff, Matthew Cooper, Scott McCrary, Dan Reilly, Jennifer Griffin, Ari Shapiro, Jonathan Kaplan, Rick Klein, Mike Allen, Olivier Knox, Erik Wemple, Nathan Burchfiel, Andrea Mitchell, Mike DeBonis, Anne Kornblut, April Ryan, Amy Morris, Keith Koffler, <strongMark Silva, Ann Compton, Mark Knoller, Betsy Fischer, Katherine O’Hearn, Pamela Brown, Beverly Kirk, Wendell Goler, Glenn Kessler, Susan Page, Michael Crowley, Claudia Milne, Kelly Dinardo, Bruce Becker, Michael Rogers, Paul Schur, Diana West, Eric Nuzum, Bill Adair, Jonathan Ward, Jennifer Sergent, Jeffrey Goldberg, Ken Silverstein, Dana Milbank, Mark Murray, Katherine Lewis, Joe Mathieu, Chrystia Freeland, Sam Youngman)

Also, drop us a line to let us know who else you’d like FishbowlDC to interview. They must work in the Washington area and you must include their email address.


When’s the last time you volunteered? Where? We volunteering quietly, but I will use this opportunity to highlight two causes that I really believe in. There are others, but these two highlight education. The first is the scholarship that we established last year at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Named after P.F. Kluge, a Kenyon English profession and Kenyon’s Writer-in-residence, the P.F. Kluge scholarship seeks provide outside educational opportunities to the editor of the school’s newspaper, The Collegian. We are also big believers in the Point Foundation, which provides financial support, scholarships, mentoring and help to young students who have been somehow ostracized and marginalized because of their sexual orientation.

Who is your favorite active journalist? There are a ton, but…Among the top: The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, who does remarkable work all the time… NBC’s Tim Russert and Michelle Jaconi, a producer for MTP and a good friend; Discovery Channel’s Ted Koppel; NPR’s Scott Simon; NYT television reporter Bill Carter; New Yorker’s David Remnick and Ken Auletta; Ron Brownstein is remarkable; Gwenn Ifel; Howard Kurtz; Lisa de Moraes; Maureen Dowd; David Brooks; Thomas Friedman; David Ignatius… Perhaps it would have been easier to ask who I don’t like.

What did you have for breakfast? Ah, oatmeal.

What one toiletry item could you not live without? When you say one, you really mean, “What dozen toiletry items could you not live without?” Right? (And I’m having to replace them all now — see the questions about crying above.)

If you could have one superpower, which one would it be? Whatever the superpower that Professor Charles Xavier (X-Men played by Patrick Stewart) has. I’m not sure what the power is, exactly — to know everything?

Red or white wine? I love the easy ones. No question – red.

PG-13 or R? R

Lincoln, Jefferson or Washington Memorial? Jefferson Memorial. I have always loved Jefferson’s multiple passions — he’s talents as a writer, his love of architecture. He is such a renaissance figure. On top of all of that, I got married at Keswick Hall near Charlottesville and we got a special, after-hours tour of Monticello, so… Jefferson.

Leg or breast (chicken, of course) Breast

Friday night or Saturday night? Definitely Saturday night.

“Wedding Crashers” or “Old School” Wedding Crashers, without a doubt. (The director is a friend.)

The Palm or Cafe Milano? I have to go off the board and vote for CityZen — the best food in DC, IMHO. Although I’ve fallen for The Source, the new restaurant in the Newseum, and Nage near Dupont, which is really wonderful.

Yankees or Red Sox? I’m not a huge sports guy, so… Our CEO is a huge Red Sox fan, so I’ll follow his lead.

Jenna or Barbara? Jenna, I guess. (And, while we’re at it, I’m more of a Lehrer guy then McNeil.)

McSteamy or McDreamy? McDreamy (that’s the one played by Patrick Dempsey, right?)

Leno or Letterman? Letterman – 1,000 times over! I’m a huge fan. I have been for years, right down the my Al Hirschfeld Letterman print.

Stewart or Colbert? Stewart

Boxers or briefs? Boxer briefs

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