Boehner Backs More House-Side Access for TV Cameras

Posted February 4, 2011 at 1:57pm

Speaker John Boehner is receptive to expanding media access to the House and is even exploring ways to allow TV journalists in the House chamber.

In a letter sent Thursday to the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association, the Ohio Republican wrote that he has issued several recommendations for ways to allow radio and TV reporters greater access to the House.

“A free and open press is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Boehner wrote. “I agree that enhancing opportunities for media coverage can make the House more open and transparent to the American people.”

Boehner approves allowing correspondents to do live shots from the House chamber during major floor activity, allowing portable cameras on the patch of grass outside the Memorial Door, and establishing new stakeout locations near the Will Rogers statue, in the Capitol Visitor Center and in Statuary Hall.

But the recommendations have to be ratified by House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood first, and Boehner said appropriate guidelines to govern the media at each new location would have to be drafted.

Livingood himself is notoriously press-shy, but Members have said he is willing to balance security needs with their calls for more openness and access.

Boehner’s letter comes in response to a letter from the RTCA asking for more access.

CNN photojournalist Jay McMichael, chairman of the group’s executive committee, said the recommendations reflect the needs of a changing press corps.

“What they gave us was generous and we thought it was thoughtful,” McMichael said. “Especially letting reporters into the House chamber. That was a pretty progressive view from the Speaker.”

He said the group met three times with the Speaker’s staff to work out these recommendations and will now work with Livingood and his staff to see them through.

Boehner’s recommendations come after a move to allow greater use of laptops in the House press gallery.