05 May 2009

Standing Up for Journalism

Where did the respect go? Did it return suddenly with a change of administration?
There is much being made of the White House Press Corps' standing and sitting during the entrance of the President.
Some have noted that they didn't do it for President George W. Bush. Not routinely.
But they did stand up on one occasion. As a sign of respect, they stood for his arrival at his final chat with them in the briefing room. And as has been pointed out by others, members of the national press do and did stand up whenever he (or any other sitting U.S. President) entered the East Room of the White House for a news conference.
If it seems we're getting a little trifling and "ticky" with the respect parceled out, well, that's who we are. And that's what some folks are interested in quantifying. These, of course, are the same people who count stories on various public figures, and then time them. Using a stopwatch.
Is it just that we're more comfortable in "our room" in the White House and that there, we offer less respect? Do we feel less inclined (Or perhaps pushed. I know few reporters who offer visible signs of respect on anything but a "this is policy" or ordered basis.) to do so on what might be considered "our turf?"
Well, no. The fact is that reporters generally don't stand for the President of the United States' arrival in the Press Briefing room out of consideration for photographers who are positioned in the back of the room. We spend our lives trying to do our jobs and be considerate of their needs as well. This is not exception. We try to stay out of the picture.
Except that an exception is being made. Members of the White House Press Corps apparently jumped to their feet in the WH Press Briefing room for the entrance of President Barack Obama during his most recent appearance. In these days of journalisto starpower, were reporters suddenly jumping up and into the frame? I'm still thinking this one over.
I'm not sure I like it. Something's lost. Something that approaches objectivity and the appearance of being nonpartisan. Something I hope we soon find again. And for heavens' sake... SIT DOWN.

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