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Ed Chen to WHCA: ‘Thanks for the Memories’ and Watch for Hot Potato Issues


White House Correspondents’ Assoc. President and Bloomberg White House scribe Ed Chen has sent his final letter to members today.

In it, he discusses the annual WHCA board elections, which are upon us.

He writes: “Three of the nine seats will be open (each with a three-year term): At-Large, Television and Magazine. Also in play is the WHCA presidency for 2012-13. To win the latter, one also must prevail in the race for the seat he/she is seeking.”

There is a sense of good taste and bad when it comes to running for the board. For instance, say yes to 200-word statements. But buttons, T-Shirts and bumper-sticks are frowned upon.

Chen mentions “hot potato” issues such as: Should there be a cap on WHCA Dinner tables per publication? And, “Should we downsize the dinner? Upsize it?”

Read the full, juicy enough letter after the jump…

“Open Press”

May 21, 2010


The annual WHCA board elections are upon us.

Three of the nine seats will be open (each with a three-year term): At-Large, Television and Magazine. Also in play is the WHCA presidency for 2012-13. To win the latter, one also must prevail in the race for the seat he/she is seeking.

The timeline:

Monday morning, May 24 — the sign-up sheet for candidates will be posted in our work-area at the White House (on the wall just outside AP’s booth.)

June 8: Sign-up period ends at 4 p.m.

June 9: Ballots and candidates’ statements are mailed to regular members. Such statements (of up to 200 words) are encouraged. Buttons, T-shirts, bumper-stickers are not.

July 15: Ballots are due by 5 p.m., and are counted.

July 16: Transition board meeting (of the out-going and the in-coming board).

The magazine seat:

Some of us have individually fielded inquiries from members (and prospective candidates) about eligibility for this seat. Alas, WHCA bylaws ( offer no definition of what constitutes a magazine. And any bylaw changes would require the approval of a majority of members. In the future, you may well be asked to weigh in on this question.

For the coming election, we urge members and candidates to be open to a broad definition of “magazine” — say, one that appears periodically either on paper or online.

Another lurking issue is what to do, in the long term, with the magazine seat on Air Force One, now that it’s rarely occupied by any magazine.

And then there’s the constellation of hot potatoes surrounding The Dinner: Should there be a cap on the number of tables per organization? And just what constitutes an organization in this era of conglomerates? Should we down-size the dinner? Up-size it? Raise the ticket price to try to keep up with ever-rising costs?

Let the campaign begin.

Finally, please join me in thanking the other seven WHCA board members, whose diligence, insights and diplomacy led to a remarkably productive run.

The highlights: We reallocated work spaces. We realigned seating in the briefing room. We created an international press pool to serve as a second set of eyes and ears at White House events involving foreign dignitaries. We significantly expanded participation in the in-town pool rotation (including a consortium of regional reporters). We updated and circulated guidelines for writing pool reports. We successfully persuaded the White House to expand access (always a work in progress). We prevailed upon the White House to facilitate travel-pool swaps, especially on international trips. We even brought in a new microwave oven. Oh, and we recently pulled off the shortest-ever annual dinner.

In closing, circle Aug. 4 on your social calendars — details to come re. event to celebrate Helen Thomas’ birthday.

Thanks for the memories,

Ed Chen
Bloomberg News

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