C-SPAN to Journalists: How About Some Gridiron Transparency?
Dinner has been off-limits to cameras, and only last year allowed the White House press corp. to provide a pool report of the festivities afterward
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/23/2012 12:32:05 PM
The Gridiron Club is made up of print, and more recently broadcast, journalists.
The dinner has been off-limits to cameras, and only last year allowed the White House press corp. to provide a pool report of the festivities after the fact -- no tweeting and or blogging or filing by reporters is allowed during the event.
C-SPAN offered to tape the event and air it ex post facto, suggesting that was in keeping with the policy of allowing reports on the "on the record" dinner after it is over. "We request that the Gridiron Executive Committee, under your leadership, takes the historic step of allowing C-SPAN to cover your 2012 dinner under the same conditions as the print press," wrote Terry Murphy, VP and executive producer of C-SPAN. "If this request is granted, we'd agree to be the pool and share our video with other news organizations."
Washington Journalists join the Supreme Court in, so far, denying C-SPAN live access to their proceedings, though the court request lacks the irony of an organization made up of journalists preventing journalists from reporting live on an event that is billed as on the record.
Below is full text of the letter:
March 22, 2012
Mr. George Condon
Grid Iron Club
Dear President Condon:
As journalists, we all applaud when organizations move to become more transparent. Therefore, it was welcome news last year when the Gridiron Club's Executive Committee announced they would begin allowing a White House pool report to be distributed after the dinner, when the President was in attendance.
As we have done year after year, C-SPAN requests you go even further in those efforts to be transparent and allow our cameras to cover your dinner. In her response to our request last year, then President Susan Page explained that the dinner is "ON THE RECORD" but you ask that "all reporters in attendance refrain from filing, blogging or tweeting during the dinner itself. However, once it is over reporters are free to write about it."
If the Executive Committee is still reluctant to allow the electronic media to cover your dinner live, why not allow us to operate under the same rules as print reporters and record your dinner for playback after it concludes? Having one set of rules for print organizations and another for television and radio journalists seems contradictory to what we all stand for - a free press. Even the Supreme Court next week, by releasing the audio of the oral arguments in the health care case after they are heard, is allowing us to report on their work immediately.
The headline on Robert McCartney's column in today's Washington Post says it best - JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY IS ON THE LINE FOR GRIDIRON CLUB. We request that the Gridiron Executive Committee, under your leadership, takes the historic step of allowing C-SPAN to cover your 2012 dinner under the same conditions as the print press. If this request is granted, we'd agree to be the pool and share our video with other news organizations. Thank you for your consideration.
Vice President and Executive Producer
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