Why attend White House Press conferences?

I don’t mean this question to be a Great Debate.
I just wonder why seemingly-important reporters attend WHPC’s? It’s painfully obvious that no facts are going to be released, everything that is asked has already been released in written form usually, and any ‘probing’ questions are brushed off.
Why do news organizations not send just some college interns to WHPC’s?
Why send a full-fledged reporter who could be doing something else more productive?
Is it all just for show (on the WH’s part AND the press’s part)?

Ari Fleischer is a master blow-off artist, as most WH Press Sec’s have been. Why would anyone WANT to ask him a question and expect some factual response?
If I was a news-organization, I’d send college interns to do the job. It only makes money-sense. (or else just watch it on tv and let others ask all the questions).

A few reasons

  1. It allows the journos to socialise with journos from other agencies and pick up a few tidbits, gossip etc
  2. Most of what happens in a press conference certainly doesn’t make it into the press release. There’s always other things to hear.
  3. It is always possible that someone will stuff up and you definitely want to be there if that happens
  4. Even though the chances are low, a junior reporter is not likely to be able to ask a decent, probing question
  5. I suspect the WH would only allow senior, accredited reporters into the conference
  6. There can often be ‘off the record’ conversations before or after press conferences
  7. It gives you the opportunity to do a post-mortem of the comments with your peers afterwards.

At least here in Australia, press gallery journos are pack animals. They follow each others lead pretty closely.

However, there are certain very senior journos who very rarely deign to attend press conferences and will wait to receive exclusives from the politicians and their press secretaries. Laurie Oakes is one who comes to mind.

Thanks, Motog,
but I still don’t think, even with the inbetween conversations and post conversations and possible slips, that any new information will be gleaned from a WHPC.
Also, the ‘probing’ questions can be easily made up beforehand for a junior reporter to ask.

This also brings up the fact that GWB doesn’t hold many WHPC’s compared to his predicesors. Could it be that GWB’s lack of control over his language, diplomacy, and lack of…well…knowledge has caused his people to forbid him from standing in front of a mike without a strict script?

Are you referring to the daily press briefings by the Press Secretary or the ones given by POTUS?

As for the former, the reporters pretty much have to go there because that’s where the White House gives out its official statements about issues and events. Once the reporters have the official version, they can go searching for leaks to find out what’s really going on.

Most White House reporters say that the beat is presitigious, but ultimately infuriating because most of the information has to be handed to you, unlike being a Capitol Hill reporter, where you can go around and ask your own questions and decide your own priorities.

I don’t mean to get into GD territory either, but it has to be noted that this administration is considerably tighter with information than previous administrations. This president has given, what, six press conferences during his term in office? As for Fleischer’s regular press briefings, previous press secretaries have actually answered questions, which had led to these being an important source of information; it is probably the case that the press corps are less interested in Flesicher’s briefings than they were in Joe Lockhart’s, but presumably they figure if they stop going, the administration will assume it can control information to an even greater extent. Whether that’s a true assumption on the part of the press or not, it is certainly a logical one.

–Cliffy