8 March 2009
I love this story from fivethiryeight. Their White House correspondent, Sean Quinn, describes the ins and outs of seating in the White House press briefing room.
How are these seats assigned? The White House Correspondents Association determines who sits, not the White House Press Office. “Everything out there,” a White House staff person told me when I first arrived, referring to the demarcation between White House Press Staff offices and the working press areas, “we have nothing to do with.”
Quinn provides a seating chart and an analysis of why the seating is so important. He describes the cramped quarters and intrigue of the place. And he points to a Daily Show clip that illuminates the topic. It is clear there is a new set of players in the room, they may not be sitting yet, but they are paying attention.
I can’t help thinking that it would be trivial for fivethirtyeight or a band of blogging journalists to raise what funds they need to become players in a small circle like the White House press corps. I think we are witnessing the emergence of a kind of individually sponsored niche journalism that will become a new model. If fivethirtyeight asks, I’m good for $50 to contribute toward getting them a seat at the correspondent’s dinner, and from there, who knows, a seat in the briefing room can’t be too far away.