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White House Correspondents' Association

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Abbreviation  WHCA
Website  whca.net
Founded  25 February 1914
Location  Washington, DC
President  Jeff Mason (Reuters)
White House Correspondents' Association httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Formation  February 25, 1914; 103 years ago (1914-02-25)
Headquarters  Washington, D.C., United States
Similar  C‑SPAN, Newseum, NPR, Associated Press, Rock the Vote
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The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States. The WHCA was founded on February 25, 1914, by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a Congressional committee would select which journalists could attend press conferences of President Woodrow Wilson.

Contents

The WHCA operates independently of the White House. Among the more notable issues handled by the WHCA are the credentialing process, access to the President and physical conditions in the White House press briefing rooms. Its most high-profile activity is the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is traditionally attended by the president and covered by the news media.

Association leadership, 2016-2017

The current leadership team of the White House Correspondents' Association includes:

  • Officers
  • President: Jeff Mason, Reuters
  • Vice President: Margaret Talev, Bloomberg
  • Secretary: Todd Gillman, Dallas Morning News
  • Treasurer: Doug Mills, New York Times
  • Board members
  • Olivier Knox, Yahoo
  • Zeke Miller, Time
  • Alicia Jennings, NBC News
  • Jon Decker, Fox News Radio
  • Julie Pace, Associated Press
  • Executive Director
  • Julia Whiston
  • White House Press Room

    The WHCA is responsible for assigning seating in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House.

    White House Correspondents' Dinner

    The WHCA's annual dinner, begun in 1921, has become a Washington, D.C. tradition and is traditionally attended by the president and vice president. Fifteen presidents have attended at least one WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924. The dinner is traditionally held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton.

    Until 1962, the dinner was open only to men, even though WHCA's membership included women. At the urging of Helen Thomas, President John F. Kennedy refused to attend the dinner unless the ban on women was dropped.

    Prior to World War II, the annual dinner featured singing between courses, a homemade movie, and an hour-long, post-dinner show with big-name performers. Since 1983, however, the featured speaker has usually been a comedian, with the dinner taking on the form of a roast of the president and his administration.

    The dinner is a scholarship benefit for gifted students in college journalism programs.

    Many annual dinners were cancelled or downsized due to deaths or political crises. The dinner was cancelled in 1930 due to the death of former president William Howard Taft; in 1942, following the United States' entry into World War II; and in 1951, over what President Harry S. Truman called the "uncertainty of the world situation." In 1981, Ronald Reagan did not attend because he was recuperating after the attempted assassination on his life the previous month.

    Dinner criticisms

    The WHCD has been increasingly criticized as an example of the coziness between the White House press corps and the administration. The dinner typically includes a skit, either live or videotaped, by the sitting president in which he mocks himself, for the amusement of the press corps. The press corps, in turn, hobnobs with administration officials, even those who are unpopular and are not regularly cooperative with the press. Increasing scrutiny by bloggers has contributed to added public focus on this friendliness.

    After the 2007 dinner, New York Times columnist Frank Rich implied that the Times will no longer participate in the dinners. Rich said that the event is "a crystallization of the press's failures in the post-9/11 era" because it "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows."

    In recent years, the dinners have drawn increasing public attention, and the guest list grows "more Hollywood". The attention given to the guest list and entertainers often overshadows the intended purpose of the dinner, which is to "acknowledge award-winners, present scholarships, and give the press and the president an evening of friendly appreciation." This has led to an atmosphere of coming to the event only to "see and be seen." This usually takes place at pre-dinner receptions and post-dinner parties hosted by various media organizations, which are often a bigger draw and can be more exclusive than the dinners themselves.

    The Merriman Smith Memorial Award

    See footnote.

    Awarded for outstanding examples of deadline reporting.

    The Aldo Beckman Memorial Award

    See footnote.

    Awarded for journalistic excellence.

    The Edgar A. Poe Memorial Award

    See footnote.

    Awarded for excellence on a story of national or regional significance.

    References

    White House Correspondents' Association Wikipedia


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