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10-year-old Bridgeport reporter
can often scoop the big boys
by Alecia Sirk
Jason Brown gets the stories that most reporters only dream of.
When Terry Anderson, an American held hostage for seven years in Lebanon, spoke at Fairmont State College's 1997 graduation, he wasn't granting interviews.
Jason got one.
When a secretary for the Air Force Thunderbirds screeched that the stunt-flying squad wasn't meeting the press, Jason got in.
His advantage? he's 10.
Jason, a fifth-grade student at Simpson Elementary School, is a kid reporter for ABC News/Disney News Blast, an online Internet service for kids. When he flashes his press credentials, he's got the power of a major network and an American icon behind him.
And he's cute.
he's got a typical boyhood bowl haircut, but the sun gleams gold off his brownish mop. His face is cherubic with full cheeks and blue eyes framed by octangular glasses. But don't hate him because he's beautiful.
he's also smart.
Jason can recount in detail what it took to meet with staff members in the office of the pentagon's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- he even interviewed the news correspondent stationed there. He sat on a curb waiting patiently for the Thunderbirds to go by and stood in the beating summer sun with veteran reporters last year at the Benedum Airport, waiting to see the departure of President Bill Clinton.
"When the President came here, I was waiting with the other reporters and I went beyond the sawhorses (that marked the press area)," Jason said.
"They had these army men there to keep people under control and when I tried to get back in, he said, "I'm sorry, but this is the press area." I showed him my badge and he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, sir."
Jason's fifth-grade teacher, Jackie Romeo, was the person who suggested Jason to the Disney network. The network didn't want to take him at first because at that time he was 9, a year too young. She convinced them.
"When I came home that night at dinner, I asked my parents, "Can I work for ABC?" he said. "And they said, "What ... ?"
But they agreed.
Soon, Jason will post his fourth story on Disney Blast (he also interviewed Gov. Cecil Underwood) and has a fifth story in the works. He loves reporting as a hobby, but has other ambitions.
"I'd like to be a police officer, or go into the Air Force, or maybe be a teacher," Jason said.
Jason has the full support of his parents, who say the job has given him confidence and introduced him to a lot of new things.
But mostly, Jason introduces himself.
Even a screeching secretary didn't scare him from walking up to the captain of the Thunderbirds stunt flyers and asking for an interview.
The captain agreed. Jason didn't waste any time asking the questions that every 10-year-old wants to know.
"What's it like to fly upside down at 600 mph," he asked.
"The captain said, 'Put down your pad and pen and I'll show you," Jason's mom, Phyllis, recalled.
Jason did, and the veteran flier quickly turned the boy upside down by the ankles and shook him hard.
"Like this," the captain said.
Jason has signed a contract with ABC and Disney Blast, which can be found at http://www.disneyblast.com/.
He has his Disney Blast shirt, cap and credentials ready and is always looking for his next story.
According to the Disney offices, there are only 80 kid reporters from across the U.S.
"I love it," Jason said. ÒI like being able to do special things. Stuff that grown-up reporters don't get to do."
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