By Alice Horner
While in Chestertown for a political roundtable discussion Nov. 30, Washington Post columnist Colby King and Washington College and Elm alum Fletcher Hall sat down with Elm staff members to discuss anything but politics.
For King, journalism is fourth in his line of careers after long steads in government and banking. Along with winning a Pulitzer Prize for his columns, King also has served as minority staff director of the United States Senate in the District of Columbia and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, just to name a few. King has remained at the same spot on the Saturday editorial page of The Washington Post for 15 years.
King explained that his writing process is often a sudden epiphany of inspiration, with past columns approaching neighborhood violence, “the GOP storm,” and the culture surrounding Sarah Palin. “I don’t have a clue, and then all of a sudden, something happens,” he said.
Family is a key influence in his writing career. “My oldest son is my mentor in this business,” he said. King also sends his material to his wife and children to read.
King was joined by Fletcher Hall, a 1963 grad of WC and past Elm editor, who now serves as CEO of F.R. Hall & Associates, LLC, a government communications company.
This wasn’t the first time Hall and King met each other; the pair go back to 1973 when they met while working on Capitol Hill. Hall was working under the late Congressman Rogers C.B. Morton, and King worked for the late Senator Charles Mathias Jr.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had two finer people in Congress at the same time,” said Hall. Together they tackled vocational rehabilitation legislation, and worked with the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Appropriations Committee.
Their work in Congress paid off. “It really led to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990,” said Hall.
After sharing their career experiences, King and Hall discussed the current state of the journalism industry, decried the doom and gloom predictions, and insisted that the young people hold the advantage in the increasingly fast-paced world of news.
“Journalism isn’t dying, it’s just changing. Don’t let anybody discourage you,” said King.
“The news culture has a certain resistance to change,” Hall continued, speaking of the shift from print to internet media.
“There are reporters who are constitutionally unable to move that quickly,” joked King. “The people who are really making it are the young people. Newspapers are evolving into something. I can’t quite tell you what, but we’re evolving.”
Hall spoke from experience by saying that an education at WC prepares you for a wide range of careers. “When you get out of here, you will know how to write, think, and speak. The future’s wide open.”