Robert Costa: A Political Reporter’s Journey to the Top

Robert Costa Source: Twitter

Robert Costa
Source: Twitter

Robert Costa was a familiar name at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. Costa helped to run the Pennsbury High School television channel, and as a freshman became editor of the school newspaper.

Surely it would come at no shock to his fellow classmates, when years later, they would frequently see Costa’s reporting throughout media.

Adding to the long list of Costa’s high school accomplishments, He wrote for the Bucks County Courier Times. He covered concert reviews making $50 per article. In doing so, Costa managed to get to know Adam Levine of Maroon 5. It was through his connections with Adam Levine that he ended up getting John Mayer to come surprise his fellow classmates at their prom.

Robert Costa interviewing Adam Levine in Highschool Source: Facebook

Robert Costa interviewing Adam Levine in Highschool
Source: Facebook

Costa found himself to be the subject of interest for Sports illustrated writer Michael Bamberger. Pennsbury High School’s Prom first stole the attention of Sports Illustrated writer Michael Bamberger.

Bamberger wrote a book titled, Wonderland: A year in the Life of an American High School.

Costa, along with fellow class mates, was one of the main characters focused on in Bamberger’s book. Costa’s high school years are mapped out from his student presidency, to being the chief editor of the school newspaper.

“Costa was an impossibly precocious on-air talent, “ writes Bamberger in Wonderland.

Directly out of high school, Costa had the opportunity of working for a current House of Representative seat holder, Mike Fitzpatrick. During the course of the summer, a seat in congress opened up, and Fitzpatrick set his sights on becoming the representative for Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district.

Costa was doing everything from driving Fitzpatrick around town, to speech writing for Fitzpatrick’s campaign.

“It was a thrill to be 18 years old and getting to talk strategies for a U.S. house campaign,“ said Costa.

Costa went on to study at the University of Notre Dame, earning his Bachelors in American studies. He then managed to complete his masters degree in under a year at the University of Cambridge in England.

Despite the poor state of the economy in 2009, Costa jumped into a position at National Review magazine.

“I applied and I got it,” said Costa. “I started out as just a low ranking reporter, but slowly over the next few years I covered the 2010 midterm election, the presidential elections, and I covered the Health Care Law closely in congress. I really became the magazines political reporter,” said Costa.

In December of 2012 Costa was promoted to Washington editor for National Review. His journalism career took off during the 2013 government shutdown. Costa gained what he called an, “over the top,” amount of attention after his coverage during the shutdown.

Robert Costa interview at the Capitol Source: Facebook

Robert Costa Interview at the Capitol
Source: Facebook

“One of the reasons, I think, my coverage got so much notice, was that I learned early on that the best thing I could do was to talk to the politicians themselves,” said Costa. “I made the congressmen my direct sources,” Costa said.

Quickly after multitudes of his coverage went viral, many news outlets began contacting him.

“I was beating the Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Everyone was wondering how this little reporter from a magazine that wasn’t very well-known was getting all these stories,” said Costa.

Costa explained that he was basically living at the capitol during the time of the shutdown. He was picking up information from sources that other reporters couldn’t even get near.

Though Costa was reluctant at first, being the “political junkie” that he is, he couldn’t turn down an offer from The Washington Post. He became the newest additional to their team of national political reporter.

In 2013, a very significant moment highlighted Costa’s career success . President Obama held an off-the-recorder meeting in which Robert Costa was invited.

“It was a fascinating experience at 27, to be able to meet with the President of the United States, and just have a conversation with him about politics, “ said Costa.

Costa had a few important pieces of advice for aspiring journalists.

“Read, read as much as you can, on current events, and on the industry you are trying to cover. Read, and study, how other people write. Try to pick up how other people phrase things, good words to use, and how they source things. The best editors and the best reporters are always reading the competitions work,” said Costa. “Try to keep improving your writing, some people are afraid of writing, but writing is really the core of journalism,” said Costa.

Paige St. John, Pulitzer Prize winner, and reporter with the Los Angeles Times, supported Costa’s statement.

“My advice for aspiring journalists, is to never accept no for an answer, and to be hardworking. However give yourself breaks, and never succumb to cynicism,” said St.John. “One of the pitfalls of this occupation is becoming cynical. It’s important to be able to have empathy and remain human.” St. John said.

In a concluding statement, Costa noted that if you want to pursue a career in journalism, pacing yourself is key.

“You want to work hard, but you also want to survive,” said Costa.


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