What does a White House Correspondent do?

Tiffany Manley

A White House correspondent is someone who reports news related to the President of the United States and the White House. Certain qualifications are needed by a journalist in order to receive press credentials as a White House correspondent. He or she also must be able to cover the news in a fair and unbiased manner.

A White House correspondent reports on the activities of the president and his staff.
A White House correspondent reports on the activities of the president and his staff.

Journalists must be affiliated with a news station or organization in order to receive permanent press credentials. In addition, he or she must be regularly published, independent and non-partisan, and the correspondent's organization must be advertiser- or subscriber-supported. There also are other qualifications, such as passing a background check and having more than half of the reporter’s income obtained from the news organization.

These permanent press credentials are important because they generally are what distinguish a White House correspondent from a journalist with a White House day pass. A journalist can apply for a day pass and receive press access by day to White House events or news affairs. When a journalist has a permanent pass, however, he or she enjoys more in-depth access to the happenings at the White House.

In general, a White House correspondent has an office in the West Wing of the White House. He or she is allowed into regular press briefings in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Traveling with the President also is allowed. Basically, when the President is making news, a White House correspondent is there to report back to the general public.

A chief White House correspondent usually is a senior news official who will be allowed into small venues when it is not feasible to allow a myriad of reporters. He or she will take notes and report the news to other colleagues or directly to the public. This group of reporters sometimes is referred to as the White House press pool.

One growing concern for a White House correspondent is the cost of covering the news. Traditionally, news organizations have covered the cost of chartered planes that allow a journalist to travel with the President and report the news. As more focus is placed on making economically sound decisions, news organizations are decreasing the number of chartered flights they use, leaving the burden of following the President on the journalist. This sometimes means traveling on commercial flights and risking missing the event or staying behind and leaving the task to a local reporter.

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