Joe Johns will be a panelist at the upcoming National Association of Black Journalists (NAJB) Media Institute Seminar: Watergate Conference on Political & Congressional Reporting.
This seminar will give journalists of color – veteran and rookies – a glimpse into legislative and political reporting first-hand. It will also provide information about how to cover everything from presidential campaigns to domestic and foreign policy.
The seminar will be held on October 20-21, 2007 at the National Journal Headquarters in the The Watergate in Washington, DC. Johns is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on October 20th from 2:30 - 4:00pm. Below is a description of the discussion:
What Really Makes News and How to Read a Bill
The biggest news on Capitol Hill can sometimes be buried in the language of the most inauspicious piece of legislation. You can have to pay close attention to what members say – to the press, to each other and when they’re on the floor. Veteran Hill reporters and editors will tell you how to stay on top of what matters.
- Rich Cohen, Staff Correspondent, National Journal
- Brian Friel, Staff Correspondent, National Journal
- Joe Johns, correspondent, CNN
Below is an excerpt from an October 2006 article from Long & Strong Throwers Journal that included a profile on Joe Johns.
TALKING HEADS by Glenn Thompson
All throwers size up the competition at a meet. If there’s a strange face warming up with a physique that looks dangerous, you can rest assured that everyone’s checking them out. But even then, you can only see who they are as a thrower. You don’t know a thing about who they are and what they are about.
This is even more true at the Masters’ level. The athletes come from all walks of life, and often are very successful in their chosen field and personal lives.
Two shining examples are Paul Ossman and Joe Johns. Aside from turning age 50 next season, they are very high profile television personalities in their own realms.
Joe Johns became a fixture on network television news in the 1990s as Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC. His reports were seen on the “Today Show,” “Weekend Nightly News” and other NBC news programs, as well as cable television on MSNBC and the internet on MSNBC.com. He currently works as CNN’s Capitol Hill correspondent and can be seen frequently on Anderson Cooper 360 and other CNN broadcasts.
Despite their great personal success, neither is overly impressed with himself and both own self-deprecating senses of humor. And they both love throwing.
Johns started throwing in junior high school in Columbus, Ohio. He was hooked after winning the junior high school city championship. He attended West High School in Columbus and continued his winning ways taking the State discus AAA championship in 1975. His prep best was 180-1.
“My best measured foul was 187-8, a sector foul in the first competitive throw of my senior year. I still remember seeing it drifting out of the sector and my begging it to, ‘Come back, come back,’” Johns recalls as if it was yesterday.
Johns accepted a scholarship to Marshall University in West Virginia.
“To be completely honest with you, back in the day, I was something of an athletic rabble rouser in college, if you can imagine that,” recalls Johns. “Coming to the university as a thrower, I felt there were some sports one has to stand up and fight for, or they may lose out. Back then, track and field was one such sport. I challenged the university in those days to standup for so-called ‘non-revenue producing sports’ and nearly transferred to another school over it, in part because my Marshall track coach at the time, Rod Odonnell, was himself such an advocate for the sport. But that is another story. I only mention all of this to say there’s a place in amateur athletics for people who speak out for their sports.”
Marshall was then a member of the Southern Athletic Conference, including schools such as South Carolina, VMI, William & Mary, the Citadel, Furman, Davidson, East Carolina. Johns won Southern Conference gold four times – twice indoors in the shot, once outdoors in the shot, and once in the discus. His best in the shot was 55-8 and 167-9 in the discus.
Johns double majored in government (political science) and communications in college, but ended up graduating with a degree in government only (political science) because, “Communications got busted down to a last minute minor because I wanted to get out of school!”
John’s original plan had been to go to law school straight out of college, but after his four years of eligibility for track were finished at Marshall, he still needed a few hours to graduate.
“I got a job doing the news on the night shift for NBC’ affilliate WSAZ-TV in Charleston, WV. And when I did finally graduate, I did my own little cost-benefit analysis and figured, “Hey I’ve already launched on a career path, why not stick it out for a while?”
From Charleston, Johns went to WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC, and in 1983 he moved to WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington. In 1993 he made the move from affiliate to the networks, signing on with NBC News as a Capitol Hill correspondent.
Johns moved to CNN in 2003. “I was originally assigned as a Congressional Correspondent for the full CNN Network, but now, I’m essentially a Congressional Correspondent assigned to ‘AC 360,’ the Anderson Cooper show,” he says. “I’m mainly doing government accountability reporting now, which follows paper trails, government spending, corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.”
“In the year or so after college, I did throw in a couple meets,” says Johns. “My best post-college throw in the shot put was 52’0”. My best in the discus right out of college was something like 150-55 I think. My work really made it impossible to train in the early years—and so from 1981 to about 1985 or so, I didn’t throw.”
“Then NBC started a corporate track team, and I got back into it. It was a great thrill for me because I missed competing so much. So it was the US Corporate Athletic Association (USCAA) that got me going again. It’s just a fantastic organization that puts on meets every year.”
Johns best in the USCAA meets is 49’6” and his best in the discus is approximately 148’.
Johns’ busy schedule makes time to work out a big issue. The biggest time crunch came when he decided to go to law school from 1998 through 2002. He had approximately 70-80 pages of dense reading and case briefing to do virtually every night. If he had too much to do in a day, the workouts were what suffered most.
“I still have a lot of difficulty getting into a regular training routine because of the travel and crazy hours associated with my job,” he says. “I’m extremely inconsistent as a thrower- I think because my training is inconsistent. I also came to the sport during the time when people started converting from the glide to the spin in the shot. So I practiced both. In college, I was pretty consistently, but not always, a glider. But these days, sometimes I’m not feeling the glide, then the spin works and vice versa. I’m pretty sure that if I worked out and threw consistently, I’d do nothing but spin, but I don’t.”
“These days, if I get into the 44 foot range in the shot (16 lbs.) I’m doing pretty good for me, which is frustrating,” continues Johns. “In the disc I get great practice throws (when I practice) and a lot of sector fouls. But the 120’s to about 135’ is the best I’ve done in a meet over the last few years. I was consistently in the 130’s at least until I had shoulder surgery in December 2004. That has affected my throwing. The operation was on my non-throwing shoulder, but for a long time after, it was hard to get a good pull because of pain, spasms and general weakness that only recently subsided. My doctor told me it could take years to get going again and I’m on track I think. Fact is, the throwing was what caused the problem in the first place. Excuses, yes. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
“Throwing is now my excuse to try to stay in shape,” says Johns. “It motivates me and keeps up the intensity in my lifting and running. Like many throwers who may have also participated in other sports like football and basketball, it’s hard for me to get the adrenaline and intensity going for a workout unless there is an underlying competitive goal. My goal is to keep throwing competitively. After all, I suck at golf.”
“I work out to throw,” Johns continues. “In high school and college I didn’t win throwing events because I was stronger than everyone else. I won, when I won, because of a speed/power combination. So when I train to this day, I have to run and lift. I have to do sprints, and even some distance, plus the Olympic lifts, or some combination thereof, if I want to reach goals in meets. This helps me keep in shape. I have two kids now, so when I work out I have to figure out how to include them. For example, we have a jogging stroller. When I go running, I take my son along for the ride.”
“What’s awesome here is my wife is a lawyer who ran track in high school and really holds her own in the gym,” he says, thinking of turning 50 next year. “We’ve used the same trainer to work out with and we’re now thinking about hiring a new trainer. So hopefully we’re getting ready to take this thing up to the next level.”
Both men are shining examples of the good in Masters throwing. They’re successful professionally and athletically. *LSTJ*
Let us know who you think it is and we'll reveal this journalist's identity in Sunday's post.