WILD Profile: Rebecca Berg, Young Enough to Know it All
by: Blaine Skrainka
June 10, 2012
Who: Rebecca Berg
Where: Born in San Diego, Lives in Washington, D.C.
What she does: Political reporting fellow, The New York Times
What’s on your mind today?
My next articles. I won’t say any more than that, though, lest I scoop myself!
What are you currently working on?
Aside from work work, I’ve been unpacking boxes in my new apartment. It’s a dreadful task, and so I find myself taking frequent breaks to pour a glass of wine and read another chapter of The Escape Artists, an excellent book by Noam Scheiber.
What compelled you to be a journalist, and why politics?
I’ve always loved to write; originally, when I was much younger, I thought I might write fiction. But, as it happened, two of the most formative times in my life thus far coincided with political events of monumental gravity. In 2001, just as I was starting middle school and beginning to consider my ambitions, September 11 irrevocably altered the direction and character of the US; then, in 2008, I started college as the nation was gripped by an historic presidential election. I came to realize that the stories that matter most are the ones that are true, and I wanted to write those stories.
What journalists do you most admire?
There are so, so many. One of my first mentors was Virginia Young, who is the chief state government reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; she taught me the fundamentals of responsible, intelligent reporting on government. Ryan Lizza, who writes about politics for The New Yorker and for whom I interned last year, crafts some of the most compelling, well-written, well-reported stories out there. And I’m terribly biased, but I have the utmost admiration for the entire Washington bureau of The New York Times; in a time rife with sensational reporting on political minutiae, they continue to work for the public good and hold their stories to the highest journalistic standards.
With whom would you like to run a country?
I would choose my younger sister, Emily. For two people as different as we are (she’s the cool one), our personalities are surprisingly complementary. Our country would be pro-quesadilla and friendly to boy bands.
What would you do if you were the president?
Actually, I was the president once, of my elementary school when I was in fifth grade. I helped organize bake sales, and I gave a speech at our “graduation.” If there had been polling at that level of politics, I’m sure I would have ended my term with a respectable approval rating.
What do you think there is too much of, and too little of?
There is too much judgment; too little compassion.
With whom would you like most to have a “tête à tête”?
I would love to have a chat with Kanye, particularly if he’s as great in person as he is on Twitter.
What does good energy mean to you?
The way I feel in the morning after a cup of French-press-brewed coffee, or when I’m back in California and can smell the salt-infused breeze off of the Pacific.
What is your most striking moment?
In late October 2008, when I was a freshman in college, then-Senator Obama swung through my college town for a last bit of campaigning before the presidential election. By an incredible stroke of luck, I was able to meet and speak with a few members of his traveling press corps. We talked shop, and then they asked my friends and I to drive them to a bar—even after they had spent a grueling day on the campaign trail. I thought, These must be the coolest people in the world; in fact, I still do.
What do you consider a fashion “faux-pas”?
Sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I wear a massive pair of olive-green Gucci nonprescription glasses. They make me look ridiculous, like a total poseur, and they’re probably a huge fashion faux pas. But I love them.
What cracks you up?
The show Veep, which debuted on HBO a month or two ago and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president. It’s a brilliant mockery of Washington without being far-fetched.
What would you like to leave to future generations?
A few good stories.
What is your WILD Wish?
To, for as long as possible, be young enough to know it all.
Follow Rebecca’s Times blog posts for The Caucus here.