KBIA alum Riley Beggin on national politics and the auto industry
Riley Beggin is a Washington correspondent at The Detroit News.
She received a Master's in audio and investigative journalism from The University of Missouri in 2017.
Beggin spoke with KBIA producer Logan Franz.
So I cover Congress and the White House from a Michigan angle. I also have a pretty sort of unique specialty, I guess, within this beat. And that's that I cover politics that affect the auto industry.
Because Michigan is still the major auto producing state in the country, it's something that matters a lot to our readers. So I'm following a lot of this climate policy stuff around electric vehicles. And, you know, we track spending and lobbying and campaign finance and all that good stuff.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about challenges you may face being on the ground in Washington, DC in covering a completely different state.
One of the challenges that people face in general in covering DC is that it can be a fairly insular reporting community. And by that, I mean, it's easy to sort of get sucked into the day to day of like what people care about in Washington.
I think a lot of people who go into political reporting end up liking that stuff because it's wonky, and we're wonky. And, you know, like, nerds are attracted to that.
But I think it's important to sort of remember what you know, people care about in Michigan, the people that we're serving.
What do you value the most in your coverage?
I try to do stories that will help people.
And it sounds really simple, but there's a lot of reporting that could be done out there that doesn't help people better understand their democracy, or, you know, the people that hold power that they're voting for, you know. Or the companies that are benefiting from their taxpayer dollars, and whether they're actually doing what they say they're gonna do.
And then I think, on a daily reporting standpoint, I try to tell stories that are not what everybody else is doing. Which also sounds really basic, but it's easy to chase. And editor's often want you to chase.
But, you know, I really pride myself on finding enterprise stories that I don't think many people are telling and then trying to tell them in a way that's humanizing and accessible and interesting to sort of move the conversation forward.
How does KBIA influence where you are now? Is there, like, a skill or a certain story that sticks out to you when you were there that has influenced you today?
I worked on a show there where we were telling, like, community stories based on sort of a theme. We did one about, like love, or—no, it was first dates at the movie theater.
And I remember being just like, so terrified of approaching people and saying, you know, "Hi, can I bother you? Like, I have some questions." And I remember someone on staff telling me, "You know, sometimes it's helpful to just think of yourself, like, this is reporter Riley working, you know."
You have a job to do. And people understand that.
And it's always helped me to this day, even when I'm approaching people about stuff, that's way higher stakes than their memories of first dates.
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