Today we bring veteran journalist April D. Ryan to the Get Up! Church. Ryan is celebrating 25 years as a White House Correspondent, coving Presidents from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. Current President Joe Biden and yes, Donald Trump. Ryan discusses how administrations have changed with the times and being a Black woman journalist covering the most powerful office in the world.
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Erica Campbell: You made history this year by becoming the longest-serving black female White House correspondent. What was it like being a black woman and covering issues in the White House?
April D. Ryan: You know, along the way, while I was just reporting during the news, this happened. I never came into it to be a history maker. I never came in it to be someone that you would know. As reporters, we’re supposed to be unseen. We’re supposed to write the story and give it to you. We’re supposed to be in the room and you don’t know where they are. But unfortunately, now, you know, I’m in the room and reporting. It was public over the last couple of years, the retaliation that I received from an administration. And I stand on too many shoulders to have said, I’m not going to stay. My late mother and father were working-class parents. And you know, they worked so hard to get me where I was. And I’m telling you, it’s nothing but the grace of God, that I’m still here. And I, I mean, I had to fall back on my face, a lot of time. And your song “The God in Me”, oh my gosh, last year, I cried my last two years, I refused to stay down. And I kept praying through it. And I’m telling you, you go out in the community, you see people reach your hand, they say, I’ve reached my hand out to the TV and prayed for you. Every time people are lifted up, I was getting calls from people who say my pastor listed your name up in church, I felt all of that because it’s nothing but God that I stood against the Goliath and his minions and wound up reporting the news for a community that was underserved.
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Erica: I love it. From your perspective, how have things changed in the White House from the Obama administration to the Trump era now the Biden administration, what has changed?
Ryan: What has changed? I’m going to tell you, technology. Technology has been such a huge factor. And I’m gonna tell you why. During the Clinton years, you know, people were using computers, but not like they are now. And then during the Bush years, everything changed after 911 people were having to remember black, the Blackberry, and the flip phone. Those who had the flip phone could not communicate with people during 911. Those who had blackberries were able to communicate by texting. Then came Barack Obama, the tech-savvy president, who went directly to the American public on Facebook, and Twitter. Yeah, he changed the game, right, you see, and so he didn’t necessarily need the press or the press secretary. He went straight to the American public. Well, Donald Trump comes, and he totally changed the game, connecting directly on social media. The game has changed. And now you know, the press secretary was in that room. You know, it became more of an entertainment thing versus news. I think technology has really moved the needle when it comes to the presidency.
GRIFF: Hey, you’re being honored at a big event coming up this Saturday, April 30. Tell us about the celebration of Black Media and Culture coming up at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture where I still haven’t been and is hosted by Chris Tucker and Mary J. Blige and D. Nice. I’m going for the summer. I’ve already planned a trip with my wife, but yeah, I have to go and Erica is in it as well.
Ryan: Well, this is going to be the first year in a few years. We’re back for the celebration as the White House Correspondents Association. And now and we’re celebrating Black Media, you know, black-owned media I’m a part of, I’m now with the Greil. Byron Allen and he also he’s celebrating black-owned media. You know what we’re doing? We are, we are the only black-owned, fully black-owned media organization who has a seat in the White House briefing room.
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