The White House Correspondents Association marks a milestone.
By Connie Lawn
The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) began as a small group of white male reporters on February 25, 1914. They banded together to set standards, gain access to the Presidents, better serve the reading public, and deal with numerous issues. The President at the time was Woodrow Wilson; the association has dealt with 17 Presidents since then. Some have been open and friendly; others nasty and cold. The Presidents tried to use the press to their advantage, just as the press tried to use them.
These issues and more were discussed at a recent reception and panel celebrating the association’s 100th year, organized by the WHCA led by this year’s president Steve Thomma and Julia Whiston, WHCA’s dynamic and dedicated executive director, and hosted by the White House Historical Association at Decatur House.
Presentations were given by White House historians William Bushong and Martha Kumar. Then a lively discussion was held by USA Today’s Susan Page, ABC News Radio’s Ann Compton, National Journal’s George Condon and Reuters’ Steve Holland. All told interesting and funny stories about covering the White House. Many of us had our own stories, too (I have been covering the White House since 1968!) but we had one hour. Unlike many politicians we know, we stuck to our time constraints. We also discussed the many problems we had in common with early reporters — access to Presidents and the best ways to report and cope in the face of constantly changing technology. Many of these stories will be passed around in the Press Room or in the hospitality suites during the week of the White House Correspondents Dinner, May 3, 2014.
Connie Lawn has been covering the White House and the world since 1968 for Audio Video News, an outlet she founded, broadcast worldwide. Her first job was with WAVA, the first all-news radio station founded by Art Arundel. Connie’s adventures can be found in her book, “You Wake Me Each Morning,” 2010 edition.
Connie shares more memories from past White House Correspondents Association dinners in the full story from the April 2014 issue of Washington Life Magazine below.