Didn't expect to see us this morning, did you? Welcome to the first weekend edition of the Inquirer Morning Newsletter. From now on we'll be hitting up your inbox each Sunday morning, too — though at a much more leisurely time. (Hey, everyone likes to sleep in.)
Here's what to expect: a quick look at the week ahead, a behind-the-scenes peek at our reporters' work, and recommendations galore, from concerts and books to restaurants and reads. Consider it the more laid-back cousin of our weekday briefing.
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Each week we'll go behind the scenes with one of our reporters to learn how they reported their latest story and the challenges they faced along the way. In this week's edition, we catch up with reporter Amy Rosenberg, who has been closely following the Miss America Organization's tumultuous year. The drama has only continued leading up to the competition, which will be televised tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC. Grab your popcorn, folks.
Your latest story focuses on the absence of the swimsuit competition from this year's Miss America event, but you've been covering the organization for quite some time. What about these recent stories has surprised you the most?
Miss America has always provided a lot of drama. I've covered the story primarily as it relates to Atlantic City, initially when it left Atlantic City and people were really upset, and, more recently, when it returned to find out that people had mostly stopped caring locally. The question of whether public money should be used to prop up the pageant on the theory that it somehow helps Atlantic City seems important. Its place in Atlantic City's ongoing saga seems smaller every day.
When it comes to "she said/she said" allegations like those between the current Miss America Cara Mund and Gretchen Carlson, the organization's board chairwoman, how do you work to uncover what's really going on behind the scenes?
The Miss America community is leakier than the White House at this point. There are people sending reporters leaked letters from Miss America, contacts to former Miss Americas and state directors, people sending Twitter messages and on and on. There's a robust social media community where a lot of things get aired out.
The controversy surrounding this nationally-televised event hasn't abated, especially after a "Gretchen Sucks" sash was found on the statue of Miss America outside Boardwalk Hall this week. What's the atmosphere been like leading up to tonight's crowning?
It's been a strange week. The sash and some "So Fake" posters mocking Gretchen Carlson raised the possibility of some kind of disruption during Sunday's telecast, which would be weird, but interesting. Preliminaries were – to be honest – kind of dull without the swimsuit competition and without the runway, the two things that most tied the pageant to Atlantic City. Let's face it, modeling the event on a group job interview might not make for the best television. I'm making a last minute prediction of Miss Indiana, a self-described "average-sized" woman who cried tears of joy when the swimsuit portion was eliminated. She won a talent preliminary, so what's stopping her?
That's a very good question. I'm not sure it is at all important, and I struggle with that reality with every story! Who cares?! Miss America is fun and weird and it's interesting that it has survived this long and has spawned off weird reality children like The Bachelor and The Pageant. But it started as a PR stunt to get people to come to Atlantic City after Labor Day and is enjoyed by people who participate, and it's been fun to live tweet the competition. Beyond that, I don't think it will ever make it in the relevancy game. And, as I said, Atlantic City does not even care that much anymore. They don't gain too much business from it, and deals where they were supposed to be featured on programs like Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve have fallen through.
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