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Reporters Give Unique Peek Of White House

The White House press pool approaching Air Force One in Rostock, Germany.
Don Gonyea, NPR
The White House press pool approaching Air Force One in Rostock, Germany.
Cox Newspapers' Ken Herman on pool duty in a chopper.
Don Gonyea, NPR /
Cox Newspapers' Ken Herman on pool duty in a chopper.

If you've ever wondered what reporters do on a slow news day, you should read White House pool reports.

Because many presidential events aren't open to the entire White House press corps, a pool of reporters from each medium -- print, radio and television -- is assembled to report back to their colleagues about what took place.

The dispatches are revelatory and often hilarious, colored with off-the-cuff observations. They give a unique glimpse of political life behind the curtain of pomp and circumstance.

Whether cheekily describing the caviar in the pool hold or the president's ceremonial first pitch, the reports are sure to entertain.

But the nature of the pool report is changing. Now, pool reports are finding their way to blogs and are circulating to the public via e-mail.

Traditionally written for an audience of insiders, the dissemination of the reports to the wider public raises journalistic questions for reporters.

Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers and Julie Mason of The Houston Chronicle talk about their experiences as pool reporters and how they approach the task of writing a report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.