Steven Thomma, White House Correspondent and Gordon Tech alum, visits DePaul Prep


Larysa Butenko, Editor, Diversions

Last week, DePaul Prep invited White House Correspondent and Gordon Tech alum Steven Thomma to speak about his journalism career to students. Thomma has been working in journalism for over 30 years and is proud of the work he has done.

“It’s a great life,” says Thomma, “It’s intellectually challenging and rewarding. It’s incredibly exciting to be writing a story and it’s a great intellectual place for competitors.”

As a White House Correspondent, Mr. Thomma has covered many presidents, such as President Biden and former Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton. Although he isn’t in the White House everyday in the briefing room anymore, Thomma still visits the White House every week or two for meetings. 

“It’s exciting. It’s at the center of public life. Everything the White House does affects millions, if not, hundreds of millions of people and that makes the stories compelling,” says Thomma when describing the White House. 

To journalists, such as Mr. Thomma, the White House is an amazing place. “It’s exciting. It’s at the center of public life. Everything the White House does, affects millions if not, hundreds of millions of people and that makes the stories compelling,” says Thomma. 

Every White House Correspondent that Mr. Thomma knows will walk out at night and stop to turn around and “look at the illuminated lit up White House and catch their breath.” Even though Mr. Thomma has been a journalist for over 30 years, he still describes it as a moment of grandeur and a wonderful place. These journalists get to walk the halls where presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt once were. 

Steven Thomma is a Gordon Tech alum. When he was a student, he was a member of the school newspaper at the time. Interestingly, the newspaper was also called the Ram Page. Mr. Thomma is excited that the Ram Page still exists and that students are still learning about journalism.

“It made my life here,” said Thomma. “I wouldn’t be where I am, I wouldn’t have done the things that I did, if not for the RamPage, and particularly the moderator, who was to me, a great man. I’m excited about the commitment the school and the students have, and it’s all exciting.”

Mr. Thomma has won two major national awards for covering the White House. One award was for coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign and the other was for the coverage of the Obama White House in 2010. His proudest story was about a financial error “that ended up saving a young family’s home. That’s my proudest story.”

“I’ve had fun stories, I’ve been hypnotized by the FBI,” said Thomma. When he was in Indiana, “a Civil Rights leader named Vernon Jordan was shot. And it turned out later when they identified a suspect, I thought he looked familiar because I covered Vernon Jordan’s speech the night before and I thought I saw someone like him hanging around outside. So a friend of mine said that I was hypnotized by the FBI and it was helpful and fascinating to be hypnotized. That was fun.”

Journalists are the first and most effective check on the government, which is what makes them very important. Mr. Thomma’s advice in being to good journalist is to “ask questions and check your facts.” 

As a journalist, Mr. Thomma has had the opportunity to visit many countries as well as see foreign capitals, leaders, and crime scenes. He has seen things that he wouldn’t have had the chance to see if he hadn’t gotten into journalism. Mr. Thomma said that it’s very exciting to be writing a story “against hundreds of competitors on a deadline with two minutes to go before the newspapers need the story.” He once had to race a rival who ran back from the office to the White House to break the news about Bill Clinton. 

“It’s just a fantastic life, not for everyone, but for me, I got everything that I wanted.”