Staff Photos: Frank Reddy ABC's White House Digital Reporter Devin Dwyer takes time Tuesday morning for an interview with Daisy Mills, editor of Wesleyan School's student newspaper.
NORCROSS -- Devin Dwyer remembers clearly the first time he met Barack Obama.
While reporting from the campaign trail, the journalist awoke one morning for a quick workout. After several minutes striding on an elliptical machine, a well-dressed butler walked into the room carrying a water bottle and a towel. Trailing close behind him were two Secret Service men and the president, sporting black Nike pants and a Chicago White Sox baseball cap.
"At this point, I'm freaking out," said Dwyer, speaking Tuesday morning at Wesleyan School. "You don't want to be that guy who's just staring at the President of the United States during his workout. Yet, there he is, and it's pretty cool."
A former history instructor and coach at the local school, Dwyer visited with students Tuesday morning, relaying some of his experiences as ABC's White House Digital Reporter.
An alumnus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Dartmouth College, Dwyer is an experienced multimedia journalist with a speciality in business and financial reporting and social media. Thanks to Dwyer's Capitol Hill credentials, Wesleyan students got a rare glimpse behind the scenes of Capitol Hill.
Recently, he spent time covering Obama's reelection campaign, zipping back and forth across the country on Air Force One.
Some interesting facts he learned about the legendary jet: it costs the federal government $180,000 per hour to operate the customized Boeing 747; ABC spends literally thousands each time Dwyer boards the aircraft; and upon stepping aboard, Air Force One passengers like Dwyer get a complimentary box of M&Ms bearing the commander-in-chief's signature. It's a tradition begun by President George H.W. Bush,
In the aircraft's wake, hundreds of Secret Service members bring up the rear inside a dozen helicopters, while journalists known as the White House Travel Pool occupy seats toward the back of Air Force One.
As "the eyes and ears of the networks" Dwyer said the elite group of journalists seek to "gather the elements we need to tell the story."
Added Dwyer: "My job is news gatherer, contact builder and I pitch stories. During the campaign I would feed information to ABC News."
Hundreds of students listened to Dwyer talk about his job Tuesday morning. Among them: several young journalists who work on Wesleyan School's student newspaper, The Green and Gold.
Ashley Hughes, a 17-year-old staff writer for the newspaper, said it was "interesting to learn about all of the work that goes into" reporting about the presidency. "Just from being in journalism myself, I knew it took more work than just what you see on TV, but it was very informative to hear it like this, firsthand."
Emily Dardaman, a contributor to the newspaper, said she was "fascinated" by the details of Dwyer's job.
"Regardless of whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it's mind blowing that you could one day spend time on Air Force One and report on things that matter so much," she said.
Added Dardaman: "I found it really helpful to get an inside glimpse into the inner workings of the press. We take all this instant information for granted. There's hours and hours of work that are put into producing photos and stories and videos."
Dwyer said that was his goal Tuesday. "At the end of this, I hope you have a better understanding of the press," he said. "There's a lot going on behind the scenes you don't know about ... that you're not seeing when you watch the news."
He said there's also stuff he sees behind the scenes that he wouldn't necessarily use for ABC News. For instance: a recent surreal morning sharing a small gym with the President of the United States.
After watching the leader of the free world conclude 10 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill, Dwyer stepped off the elliptical machine to say hello to Obama.
"He had picked up some 20-pound dumbbells, and he was doing bicep curls," Dwyer said. "I said 'Good morning,' and he said the same. Then, I couldn't resist. I made a comment, something like: 'Boy for a 50-year-old that's pretty good.' He just shot me a glare and went back to pumping iron."
"I traveled with President Obama all over the country, but being up close and personal to the president is a surreal opportunity. It gives reporters a sense of what these politicians are like. In this case, it's pretty interesting seeing them doing this everyday stuff."
It's a rare, candid glimpse into the world of politics, he said: "where everything is calculated and nothing is an accident."