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Fishbowl5 With National Press Club’s New Prez

Meet AP‘s Mark Hamrick, a new V.I.P. in town. The Washington, D.C.-based online video producer and business correspondent was sworn in as National Press Club President Saturday night. Watch the video with President Obama here.

1. You’ve been elected President of the Press Club. How does it rank with other great moments in your life? It ranks right up there with our wedding and the birth of my son, Christopher. As I told those on hand in the ballroom, it will probably be the best, largest such gathering before my funeral, except I got to be present for this one.

2. You’ve worked for AP for a quarter century. How does that feel and how do you think you’ve changed as a person and journalist in that time? First, as a person, I hope I’ve developed more empathy. As a journalist, my sense of mission has only grown stronger. On the job, I’ve learned to trust my instincts and intuition more. I think more about trying to make emotional connections to people with my work.

3. Your dad worked for AP. Did you always know you’d go into the journo business? My dad brought home a cassette recorder from his work in the 1960s and I was immediately fascinated by it. I knew I wanted to go into radio very early and was hanging out at my first station when I was 15 years old. I was employed soon after that doing newscasts and everything else one did around a small station. I went to a presidential news conference with my dad when Ford was visiting Topeka, saw the network reporters there like Tom Brokaw and knew that was what I wanted to do.

4. What improvements do you think need making at NPC? What is your platform for change or doesn’t it need it? The National Press Club has never been stronger financially. I want us to seek higher-profile speakers, including those who can participate in discussions about journalism. The public is eager for it, given what I’m seeing in the social networking space. Another project we’ve started is with a new Diversity Committee, which will help us to reach out to a variety of groups and individuals. We can do a better job telling the story of the National Press Club and why it presents a compelling value to prospective members.

5. Assess the state of journalism today and where it’s going. What do you miss from the “old” days and what do you think is exciting about today’s version of journalism? I miss the journalists from earlier generations, like Walter Cronkite and Christopher Glen from CBS and succinct writers like Art Buchwald and Jack Anderson. But I don’t yearn for those days. The pace of change in technology and media is breathtaking.  And, as in the past, people are always interested in knowing about good stories, no matter in video, radio or in print.

A bonus question…

What story springs to mind first as the favorite story you’ve covered in your life?
Can be anything… big or small.
I was doing a 10-part series on immigration when I worked in the Dallas bureau. I interviewed an auto repairman who was working illegally in the U.S. so his child could get medical treatment.  We had collected dozens of hours of audio and his story was the most compelling.  I’ll always wonder what happened to them.

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