Breakfast Feasts and Added Desserts

By Sperling, Godfrey | The Christian Science Monitor, September 2, 1997 | Go to article overview

Breakfast Feasts and Added Desserts


Sperling, Godfrey, The Christian Science Monitor


Over the years one of the most frequently asked questions about the Monitor breakfast group goes something like this: "What do journalists who attend these breakfasts expect to get out of them, and how often are their expectations fulfilled?"

Well, to answer that I must go back to the beginning, back to the group's first meeting in 1966 at the Washington Press Club. It was there - before our guest, Sen. Charles H. Percy, then a hot presidential prospect, had arrived for a lunch, actually - that we addressed the question of "why" we were there.

"We have come for enlightenment," Monitor columnist Roscoe Drummond said.

"Yes," added Baltimore Sun bureau chief Philip Potter, "and this gives us a good opportunity to size up these public figures." There were nods of agreement around a table that held about a dozen newsmen.

Some years later, Jack Nelson, Los Angeles Times bureau chief, told Esquire Magazine, "I come to these breakfasts to save string."

By this he meant that he found the gatherings to be valuable forums for picking up information and quotations that were useful later on - perhaps after a guest made a bid for the White House, for example.

It's important to note that the early shapers of the breakfast group were not saying the objective was to find a news story there. They all agreed that if news developed, fine and good. But they came mainly to pick up fresh outlooks and new information and to get to know the guests better.

So it is clear that, in terms of the objectives set by the breakfasts' founders, the gatherings do fulfill their expectations. The best proof is that the journalists have been showing up for these get-togethers a little more than 2,900 times now over the last 31 years. Sometimes the turnout is small. But often we have more than 50 journalists at one time - far more than was ever envisioned when the group sat down together for the first time. …

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