Media folks fight with each other every day. They’ll do all sorts of things to beat their competition. So, when 18 media organizations get together to unite on a common goal, it might make you wonder what they’re all worried about.
It appears they are worried about President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with the media. They’ve probably got good reason to worry. Trump has repeatedly called out the media during his campaign. He ditched the media pool assigned to cover him when he met with President Obama. Even though his transition team say they would be OK with a traditional pool (where a small group or reporters cover the President and share material rather than everyone fighting for a piece), he did it again this week.
This, of course, sent the media into an all-out tizzy.
The group of 18 media organizations penned a letter (I guess it’s really typed) to Mr. Trump asking him to “play by the rules.” Since Trump hasn’t seemed to play by anybody’s rules but his own during the run-up to his election, you have to wonder what makes them think he will this time.
I’m a media member. I think access and transparency to our government and elected officials is critical to our Democracy. I think I would have leaned a little more on that argument rather than that the press pool is “an important tradition.” Americans, in electing Mr. Trump, have seemingly embraced the notion that they want to change the rules and don’t care about tradition. They narrative is that they are fed up with business as usual.
I’m sure most people could care less about the “tradition” of a press pool, but everyone should care about reporting the workings of our federal government.
Here’s the full text of the letter so you can read it yourself.
SOURCE: The National Press Club
Dear President-elect Trump,
We, a group of diverse journalism associations representing thousands of journalists from the nation’s capital to every corner of the country, begin this letter on a hopeful note. Your administration is a blank slate and we are eager to work with you to perpetuate one of this nation’s great strengths: our freedom of the press.
As the new leader of the free world, we expect that you will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency. The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president’s movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect. The role of the press pool is critically important to our country, whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing.
Being president is an enormous responsibility and working with the White House Correspondents’ Association to ensure journalists’ access is one small but important part of that. We call on you to commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day of your presidency. We respectfully ask you to instill a spirit of openness and transparency in your administration in many ways but first and foremost via the press pool.
We also call for access to you via regular press conferences and pool sprays and to your key decision-makers. You have an opportunity as incoming president to set the tone for your staff speaking on the record for the sake of transparency. We also hope your administration will improve response rates to FOIA requests as a way to show the American people, and the world, that the republic belongs to the people.
A great America depends on having sunlight on its leaders. We expect the traditions of White House press coverage to be upheld whether in Washington or elsewhere. Again we, a joint group of diverse journalism associations, speak as one as we respectfully ask that you take these steps to ensure access to our members covering your administration.
The National Press Club
National Press Club Journalism Institute
Society of Professional Journalists
Mizell Stewart III
American Society of News Editors
Radio Television Digital News Association and Foundation
Reporters Without Borders/RSF
Committee to Protect Journalists
Sandy K. Johnson
National Press Foundation
National Association of Black Journalists
President, Board of Directors
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Native American Journalists Association
Asian American Journalists Association
National Association of LGBTQ Journalists
Elisa Lees Munoz
The International Women’s Media Foundation
Regional Reporters Association
President, Board of Directors
Online News Association
Journalism and Women Symposium
National Press Photographers Association