Trump Team Considers Moving Press Briefings to Expand Capacity

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 19, 2017

Trump Team Considers Moving Press Briefings to Expand Capacity

President Barack Obama holds a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. Built in 1970 during the Nixon administration, the briefing room replaced a swimming pool that was installed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. (CNN)

(by Ros Krasny, Bloomberg News) – The incoming Trump administration is considering moving White House press briefings out of the West Wing to accommodate more than the “Washington media elite,” President-elect Donald Trump’s press secretary said.

“This is about greater accessibility, more people in the process,” Sean Spicer said Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Media Buzz.” Involving more people, including bloggers and others who aren’t from the mainstream media, “should be seen as a welcome change,” he said.

Spicer and other Trump officials said no decisions had been made.

Their comments followed a report Saturday by Esquire, citing unidentified officials from the transition team, that the new administration may move the press corps out of the main White House building altogether because of antagonism between Trump and the media.

Any change would be made for logistical reasons, in response to heavy demand from media organizations, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday.

“The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access,” White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said in a statement Sunday. “We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”

Mason said he was meeting with Spicer “to try to get more clarity on exactly what” the proposal is.

“There’s such a tremendous amount of interest in this incoming administration that they’re giving some consideration to finding a larger venue on the 18 acres in the White House complex, to accommodate that extraordinary interest,” Pence said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“The interest of the team is to make sure that we accommodate the broadest number of people who are interested and media from around the country and around the world,” Pence said.

On ABC’s “This Week,” incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said demand for press-conference credentials far exceeds the “49 people” who can fit into the current briefing room.

“The one thing that we discussed was whether or not we want to move the initial press conferences into the Executive Office Building,” Priebus said, adding, “you can fit four times the amount of people.”

“I know that some of the folks in the press are uptight about this, and I understand,” Priebus said. He didn’t address whether a change was being mulled only for briefings or also for the media’s daily working arrangements. The briefing room sits between the offices of White House communications staff and those of major news organizations, and is steps from the president’s Oval Office.

After “500 or 600” people attended Trump’s press conference in New York on Jan. 11, the president-elect’s first since the election, “we started thinking, man alive, if we have more people involved instead of less people involved, wouldn’t that be a good thing,” Priebus said.

Although located across the street [see map under “Resources” below], the Executive Office Building is still “the White House,” he said.

NOTE: Today’s article was originally published on January 15th. In an interview on January 18th, President-elect Trump said they will not move the Press Briefing Room. Watch the interview under “Resources” below.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Bloomberg News. 

Questions

NOTE:  Before answering the questions, read the “Background” and view maps of West Wing and White House/Executive office under “Resources” below.

1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. What is the White House Press Corps?

3. a) What does the White House Press Secretary do?
b) How did incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explain the possible move of White House press briefings from the West Wing of the White House to the White House Executive Office Building across the street?

4. a) How many reporters can fit into the current press briefing room? What did incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus say about a possible change in press briefings location? Be specific.
b) How did he address the Press Corps’ concern over the possible move?

5. What did Vice President-elect Mike Pence say about the possible move? Be specific.

6. What do you think of Priebus’ assertion that “if we have more people involved instead of less people involved wouldn’t that be a good thing?”

7. White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason responded to the news in a statement Sunday: “The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access. We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”
a) What do you think: would this move open up press briefings to more reporters and be a good thing for transparency, or would it shield the president from scrutiny?
b) Whatever political party you support, which do you think is a better way to provide transparency for the American people?

  • expanding the number of press attending daily White House briefings but having to move them to the Executive Office Building, or
  • keeping the same location – closer to the Oval Office – but then limiting the number of reporters to 49 and therefore shutting out many who would like to attend

Explain your answer.


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Background

The White House press corps is the group of journalists or correspondents usually stationed at the White House to cover the President, White House events, and news briefings. Their offices are located in the West Wing.

White House Press Briefing Room:

  • The White House Press Secretary generally holds a weekday news briefing, which takes place in the the James Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House where the Press Secretary gives briefings to the news media and the President of the United States sometimes addresses the press and the nation.
  • The room currently seats 49 reporters.
  • Each seat is assigned to one news gathering organization, with the most prominent organizations occupying the first two rows.
  • Reporters who don’t have an assigned seat may stand.
  • Often a smaller group of reporters known as the White House press pool is assembled to report back to their colleagues on events where the venue would make open coverage logistically difficult.
  • When a new U.S. president is elected, some news organizations change their correspondents, most often to the reporter who had been assigned to cover the new president during the preceding campaign.

Some White House correspondents have come under criticism for not more directly challenging the people they cover. A common criticism of the White House news briefings is that top reporters are given priority access to the Press Secretary and are allowed follow-up questions, while those in the back rows are rarely called upon. Such seating assignments are selected by the White House Correspondents’ Association, NOT the President’s Press Secretary or White House staff.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President. The WHCA was founded in 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.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. (all of the above info from wikipedia)


White House Press Secretary

  • The White House Press Secretary is a senior White House official whose primary responsibility is to act as spokesperson for the U.S. government administration, especially with regard to the President, senior executives, and policies.
  • The press secretary is responsible for collecting information about actions and events within the president’s administration and issues the administration’s reactions to developments around the world.
  • The press secretary interacts with the media, and deals with the White House press corps on a daily basis, generally in a daily press briefing.

Resources

NOTE: Today’s article was published on January 15th. In an interview on January 18th, President-elect Trump said they would not be moving the Press Briefing Room. Watch the January 18th interview below: