Eggen Looks At Pool Report Controversy

In Monday’s Washington Post, “In the Loop”‘r Dan Eggen turn his lens on the recent White House pool report controversy (more on FishbowlDC here, here and here) and throws a nice nod to us.

Everybody in the Pool — or Not

Warning: Media navel-gazing ahead.

A brouhaha erupted last week among the ranks of the White House Correspondents Association, the official club of reporters who cover the aforementioned building. The trouble centers on a move by the WHCA board to limit distribution of some pool reports, which are dispatches describing photo opportunities, Air Force One flights, and other doings not open to the entire press corps.
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A dwindling number of newspapers and media companies are paying to send reporters with the president when he travels at home or abroad, leaving it to a few big papers (full disclosure: You are reading one) to pick up the tab. As a result, the WHCA decided to limit some reports to those traveling with the president.

The move set off a fevered debate via e-mails that — reporters being reporters — were quickly leaked to Mediabistro.com’s FishbowlDC.

“The idea that pool reporting on the road with the president will be available only to those who travel and pay for it should be repugnant to our profession,” wrote Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune. “I call it pay to play.”

But Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times called the out-of-town pool system “broken” and wrote in an e-mail: “A system that called for pool duty — let’s not forget the word duty — was set up so that we could share the responsibility for coverage, as well as the information gathered. Today only the information is shared.”

So far the association is holding firm, but current WHCA President Ann Compton of ABC News has urged members to weigh in.