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Correspondents' Association: "Nerd Prom" Needs More Journalists, Fewer Celebs

By / Dec 17, 2014 President Obama, shown at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (White House Correspondents' Association)

Last week, the White House Correspondents’ Association made a plain request to the media outlets that buy tickets to its annual fundraising dinner: Don’t invite celebrities at the expense of the journalists for whom the event is intended.

As another round of “Nerd Prom” approaches, the association that puts it on wants to ensure that the “nerds” have a spot at the table.

Last week, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) announced plans to hold the 2015 version of its well-known gala, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, on April 25. The comedian playing MC this year? Saturday Night Live star Cecily Strong.

With its announcement, the association had a message for the news organizations that fill the White House press room and buy tickets to the event: Don’t forget the journalists who actually cover the White House day in and day out.

Too Many Special Guests?

In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded gala mixing DC and Hollywood, with many news organizations inviting celebrities to attend as their guests.

For the 2014 dinner, for example, The Huffington Post invited actress Anna Kendrick and ABC News brought actress Connie Britton. One-time star couple Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson hit the event separately, with Fox News and USA Today, respectively, playing their hosts. And in 2012, even Kim Kardashian made an appearance.

Not that any of those stars were outshone by the guest of honor—the president is always the headliner, with the comic host not far behind.

Making Journalism the Star Attraction

But in the end, WHCA reminded media outlets, the focus should remain on the relationship between journalism and politics.

“An important priority for us is making sure that as many [as possible] of your hardworking journalists who actually cover the White House, and are members of our association, get a chance to attend the dinner,” WHCA said, according to a note quoted by Politico.

While the association will continue to allow “special guests,” it encouraged news organizations “to invite as many of our members who work at your organization as possible.”

The event, for which tables cost $3,000 and seats cost $300, helps fund scholarships for journalism students. Last year alone, the dinner raised $150,000.

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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