Daniel Malloy was raised in Alexandria, Va. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, then took a job reporting for a Pittsburgh newspaper. He’s never lived in Georgia.
But you’d never know that by reading his coverage of national politics.
Malloy is the AJC’s reporter in Washington. Unlike much of the Beltway press corps, Malloy writes about D.C. politics specifically for Georgia readers. So while Malloy’s contemporaries are following the pack to the next Rose Garden press conference, he stays focused on explaining to Georgians what policymakers are doing for – or to - the people back home.
For Malloy, keeping his audience in mind is key to shaping coverage that shows how national leaders’ actions affect metro Atlantans.
“I spend a lot of time looking at the big issues of the day. I mean, there are a million things coming at once, but I think about which of these issues are going to matter the most to people in Georgia,” Malloy said. “And I think about which issues Georgia (politicians) are going to have the most outsized role in.”
After all, readers can get national political news from numerous sources in print and online: New York Times, Fox News, Politico, the list goes on. No newspaper but the AJC covers Washington just for metro Atlantans.
This isn’t an election year, so you might think Malloy has relaxed a bit. Hardly. He started the year writing about Congress’ fiscal cliff negotiations – in which Georgia representatives played a key role – and recently has written about the implications of the Voting Rights Act decision on Georgia.
In those instances, most newspapers would have looked to the Associated Press for broadly written stories suitable for readers from Bangor to Bakersfield. But Malloy tailored his reporting and writing for a Georgia audience.
For example, here’s the first paragraph of AP’s story on the voting rights decision:
A deeply divided Supreme Court threw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, a decision deplored by the White House but cheered by mostly Southern states now free from nearly 50 years of intense federal oversight of their elections.
Nothing wrong with that, but obviously that story was written for every reader in America.
Malloy wrote the following for the AJC’s front page:
Governing bodies throughout Georgia and the South no longer need federal approval to change voting procedures, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a landmark revision of civil rights law.
Malloy’s approach emphasizes the decision’s impact here. Subtle difference? Perhaps, but Malloy’s story is more immediately relevant to AJC readers. And it’s just one example of the thinking that informs his work every day.
We lured Malloy to the AJC two years ago, impressed by his experience covering Washington for another newspaper. We figured it was crucial for our D.C. reporter to understand the unique ecosystem of our nation’s capital. But that presented a challenge for a guy who’d only visited Georgia a few times.
So how does he connect with what our readers want in political coverage?
Malloy said he’s a faithful reader of the AJC and other Georgia media, which help him understand local perspectives. AJC Political Editor Susan Abramson, who works in Atlanta, helps keep him abreast of the hot topics here, as do our Georgia-based political writers.
He flies to Atlanta every few months, and accompanies Georgia members of Congress when they meet with constituents on college campuses and in town-square diners. His observations influence his work.
“Those (visits) are helpful in understanding how the politicians are regarded back home,” Malloy said. “And you get to hear what’s on voters’ minds, and see how they interact (with their representatives).”
Malloy said the AJC’s market research has benefited him. Our regular reader surveys have identified subjects of strong interest to our audience - immigration, health care, transportation, among others – so Malloy knows to incorporate those topics into his coverage as much as possible.
One of Malloy’s biggest responsibilities is helping Georgia voters make informed choices at the polls. Georgia’s 2014 race for U.S. Senate is already under way, and you can expect Malloy and our Atlanta-based political reporters to write stories aimed at helping readers understand candidates’ backgrounds, records and policy positions.
Malloy enjoys chewing the fat with the Georgians he meets here. What does he hear the most? Take a guess.
“They can’t stand Washington,” he said, “and I tell them it doesn’t look any better up close.”
-- Deputy Managing Editor Charles Gay oversees local news and sports reporting.