RTCA Annual Elections Next Week

The Radio & Television Correspondents Association’s annual general election will take place next Wednesday and Thursday.

There are three open positions on the executive committee and seven candidates– Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas, Pacifica Radio (Free Speech Radio News)’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN’s Jay McMichael, Capitol News Connection’s Manuel Quinones, NBC’s Luke Russert, NPR’s Andrea Seabrook and The Hill‘s Erica Wisniewski.

The top three vote-getters will be elected to a two-year term and the person with the highest number of votes chairs the 2011 committee.

Active members can vote in the Senate Radio-TV Gallery from 9am to 5pm on December 9th and 10th.

Check out the cands’ statements after the jump…

Max Cacas, Federal News Radio

Many of you know me as a reporter for WFED (1500 AM) Federal News Radio, and WTOP (103.5 FM) here in Washington. (See my online station bio at http://tinyurl.com/maxnewsroom) I have nearly 30 years of daily experience as a reporter (WASH-FM, WXTR-FM, WAMU-FM, CBS Radio), and a producer/editor (National Public Radio, CNC/PRI) right here in Washington, covering many of the same stories you cover, and facing many of the same editorial, technical, and logistical challenges you face with coverage every day. I also have extensive technical and facilities management expertise when it comes to broadcast news facilities, especially those in our galleries. I have also been an advocate for the First Amendment’s ‘Free Press’ protections as an active member of the Society of Professional Journalists; a founding member of the Online News Association; and a former staffer with the Newseum/Freedom Forum. If you give me your vote for the Executive Board of RTCA, I promise to be a forceful advocate for YOU as an accredited member of our association, and will work hard to keep Capitol Hill, as described by our former chairman Mike Viquera, “The Best News Beat in Washington”. Thank you for your consideration, and your vote!

Leigh Ann Caldwell, Pacifica Radio (Free Speech Radio News)

I am asking for your vote for the RTCA Executive Committee. I have spent each day on the Hill for the past three years and have covered every major debate that has graced these halls. I have filed more than 1000 daily news and feature stories on issues ranging from health care to the economic crisis, from immigration reform to Supreme Court confirmations, from the Iraq war to the Patriot Act.

As a member of the Executive Committee, I will listen to each memberÂ’s valued opinion and work collaboratively with the committee as we work to ensure your access to lawmakers continues and improves, especially as technology changes. As a reporter for a small organization with a bureau in Washington, I will be sure the voices of the small and international outlets with DC bureaus are heard before the committee.

I urge you to vote for me on December 9th or 10th. I will be an active committee member who listens to and works for you.

Please feel free to contact me at leighann.caldwell@gmail.com. My door is always open.

Jay McMichael, CNN

Jay McMichael has been a member of the Radio TV Gallery since 1987. He has worked as photojournalist with CNN in Washinton DC since 1989. He is very familiar with access, parking and new technology issues. If elected, he will be only the third photojournalist to serve on the Radio TV Executive committee and will offer institutional knowledge and unique perspective to the committee.

Manuel Quinones, Capitol News Connection

Greetings everyone! I’m a radio / multimedia reporter at Capitol News Connection. As a member of the executive committee, I will represent the interests of Radio-TV journalists. My main goals are the following:

-Guarantee access.

-Expand access whenever possible.

-Discuss the role of new media / new news-gathering tools.

I’ve been both a television and radio reporter. That’s why I understand the coverage needs of radio, television and new media journalists in the Capitol. I also covered government and politics for WSET-TV in Lynchburg-Roanoke, VA and KMIZ-TV in Columbia, MO. While in college at American University, I was a White House and Congressional intern. And I covered Capitol Hill for the Belo DC Bureau. For more information about me, just log on to my web-site at: www.talkingwithamericans.com or shoot me an e-mail mquinones@cncnews.org. Thanks for your consideration!

Luke Russert, NBC News

Luke Russert joined NBC News in August 2008 as a correspondent based in Washington, D.C. Russert currently reports from Capitol Hill on the House of Representatives and covers youth issues for “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” MSNBC and msnbc.com.

Not limited to political reporting, Russert traveled to Memphis to report on evacuees on the eve of Hurricane Gustav and also appeared as a street correspondent on NBCÂ’s “New Years Eve Special with Carson Daly.”

Since March 2006, Russert has co-hosted the critically acclaimed sports radio talk show “60/20 Sports” with political pundit James Carville on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.

With a long background in radio and a strong understanding of television production, Russert knows the unique complexities of getting both mediums to air, especially at remote locations. If elected, he will work tirelessly on behalf of radio and television journalists to ensure not only their access to members of Congress but also to facilities that best enable them to perform their jobs.

As a young man starting his career at the dawn of a new media age, Russert is appreciative of the role web journalists play in covering the Capitol and believes them to be an essential part of the media. If elected, Russert will do everything in his power to make sure web based television journalists have the same access to prime camera positions as the networks. He will also work to increase the space around the Capitol where small cameras may be used.

If elected, Russert will work with members of Congress to encourage them to use the $620 million dollar taxpayer funded Capitol Visitors Center for their press conferences. The state of the art facility was partly constructed to provide a more comfortable and logical space for reporters, camera crews and staff during press conferences and has not been used effectively since its opening a year ago.

Lastly, if elected, Russert will make preserving journalistsÂ’ access to lawmakers his number one priority. As a big believer in the first amendment, Russert ardently believes that if lawmakers canÂ’t answer tough questions than they will not be able to make tough decisions. For this reason, Russert will work to strongly refute any attempts by the SpeakerÂ’s Office to limit access to members on the grounds of the Capitol.

Russert grew up in Washington DC and graduated with a double major in history and communications from Boston College.

Andrea Seabrook, NPR

Andrea Seabrook is a Correspondent for NPR, based in the House Radio-TV Gallery. She has served on the RTCA Committee once before, under the excellent chairmanships of Dave McConnell (WTOP) and Annie Tin (C-SPAN). If she is elected again, Andrea hopes to tackle the particularly thorny issue of hand-held video cameras in the Capitol. She believes there is a problem when any tourist can flip open a phone and catch a powerful Chairman ranting in the hallway, but our credentialed, professional journalists are blocked from doing so by a complex web of rules. Andrea believes our committee should be constantly negotiating for increased access to the Capitol, and the full freedom of the Press. Feel free to send any questions to Andrea Seabrook at aseabrook@npr.org.

Erica Wisniewski, The Hill

You may have seen Erica in the Capitol before, using her small camera and stature to produce big news packages on thehill.com. While Erica works for a newspaper her coverage goes online; yet her camera gear places her in the ranks of the Radio-TV folks, and she wouldnÂ’t prefer it any other way. Shooting and editing video on both sides of the Capitol rotunda, Erica knows the advantages and limitations of covering Congress with a video camera and she aims is to improve upon the access granted to TV, radio, and multimedia on Capitol Hill.

Before covering the Hill Erica obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from the Catholic University of American and honed her editing and production skills with National Geographic TV & Films and CNNÂ’s Special Investigations Unit.

With a diverse background Erica would bring a multifaceted insight to the Executive Board. Erica is a new kind of journalist; one who does it all and understands all perspectives. Her appreciation of print, online, television, and multimedia keeps her attuned to the various nuisances and issues pertinent to the RTCA and to Washington’s expansive news community. Erica would be thrilled to represent you on the RTCA Executive Board, so please remember to vote for Erica Wisniewski on December 10th and 11th, because you canÂ’t forget a name like Wisniewski (WIZ-new-ski).