Pool reporters test new system to avoid White House censorship

White House pool reporters created an online forum this month to distribute news reports without Obama administration involvement.

The development of the new system came in response to journalists’ complaints that administration officials had abused their traditional role as the distributor of pool reports by demanding changes to them before agreeing to distribute them.

Reporters gathered for weekly White House press briefing
Reporters gathered for weekly White House press briefing

Ninety print reporters form the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) started the forum to share pool reports without White House involvement, according to The Washington Post. They plan to expand the group to include additional reporters after the test period.

Pool reports summarize public appearances by the president and are written by the small number of journalists actually in attendance. The White House press office then distributes these reports to roughly 8,000 email addresses. From there, the information in the reports appears in “countless news stories,” The Post said.

The test of the new system involved sharing pool reports about the president’s recent Chicago trip as well as “advisories,” such as when a correction to a previous report will be forthcoming, the WHCA members said.

Broadcast journalists already employ an alternate to the “official” White House system. The goal of this project is to create for print and online reporters, who significantly outnumber their counterparts in television and radio, a similar system that does not depend on the White House press office.

The new system would be faster than the current one, WHCA President Christi Parsons, White House correspondent for Tribune newspapers, told The Post.

However, it is unlikely to replace the “official” White House system, largely because of the expense involved. The White House press office currently employs several individuals to coordinate the pool reports and the journalists who write them, and the WHCA would have to find a way to take over that expense.

White House press officers have been distributing pool reports without demanding changes since the WHCA requested them to do so when Josh Earnest replaced Jay Carney as press secretary, the WHCA said.

The White House declined requests from The Post for comment.

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