Welcome to realNEO Washington Bureau - Backstage at the White House

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 12/17/2010 - 05:51.

White House viewed from the entrance to the Media Briefing room and press facilities
Entrance to Press Briefing Room and media facilities at the White House (seen in the distance)

On December 15, 2010, Obama administration officials convened the first-ever White House Forum on Environmental Justice, and I felt it was important to attend. As an environmental injustice victim, and activist for environmental justice, I wanted my voice to be heard... and as a media representative of real NEO, where the mainstream media does not cover environmental injustice, I wanted to listen, learn, and help other citizens here and worldwide understand what is being planned in Washington to combat environmental injustice in Cleveland, America, and globally.

While I was covering what was happening inside the White House, I thought I'd share a few snapshots of the backstage workings of the "White House" itself, which is certainly one of the best known and most important places in world history... and a spectacular architectural masterpiece.

White House North West gate view
White House North West gate driveway view

As I was there as press, I had some freedom to take photographs on the grounds, and can offer some unique perspectives from the eyes of the media that covers news, backstage at the White House.

White House (in background) Media Staging Area and Media Stage at North West Gate
White House (in background) Media Staging Area and Media Stage, at North West Gate

The reporters and crew at the White House see the world unfold before their eyes, each day, to broadcast to the world... and the White House is a fascinating show, in person. I hope all the White House press realize how fortunate they are to see West Wing live each day... no reruns. I certainly appreciate the opportunity.

White House Media Stage with Eisenhower Executive Office Building in background
White House Media Stage with Eisenhower Executive Office Building in background (in renovation)

Knowing important news may happen at any time - wars start... terrorists attack - and it takes time to get to the White House, and get equipment through security - the news crews stay on site at the White House all day (I assume all night), equipment ready, braving long boring hours doing little, in often harsh elements, for moments of light.

President Obama's view of the Media Stage when he speaks from the White House driveway
President Obama's view of the Media Stage when he speaks from the White House driveway... his audience awaits

Above is what Obama sees each time you see him standing in his driveway, in front of the White House, speaking to the American people... a bunch of bright lights and ugly cameras. You'll often see the TV reporters filmed from this view as well, as they await important developments from inside - this is the primary outdoor media stage. Next time you see the President or Dan Rather offering comments from here, picture 100 press people in front of him, on this stage, in the elements right along with him.

They especially seem to love filming from here during blizzards, at night... keeps the press tough.

Front inside view of White House Press Briefing Room, between briefings
Front inside view of White House Press Briefing Room, between briefings... note parkas

When there is no action to capture outside, the press has facilities to get in out of the cold, do post production, and catch up on calls and messaging - there is even a small kitchen area, with TWO espresso machines... and room for reporters to relax between shoots and press briefings... this is the Press Briefing Room.

You've certainly seen President Obama and many of the most important people in the world stand right there, to tell you good news. I certainly pictured these briefings taking place in a large studio, rather than in a small side-chamber of the White House, with a modest kitchenette... through those doors is the President.

Back of White House Press Briefing Room, between briefings
Back of White House Press Briefing Room, between briefings - today, the action was clearly out in the cold

The Press Briefing room features state-of-the-art, high efficiency LED lighting and all the technology one would expect at a primary news node to the world... all encased in a polished, efficient, elegant, historic package... the Obama White House is a busy, to-the-point, well-oiled, ALL-BUSINESS MACHINE.

The White House press corps consists of many sound and audio technicians, camera operators and photographers, supporting a significant presence of reporters from all the major news outlets you'd expect - Reuters, AP, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC all have in house production space, it appears - who all spend a great deal of time waiting for news to happen... imagine how these people passed their time before laptops and cell phones. Now, they may shop and update the world while they wait for the news... or they may nap.

While I was there, the press corps had a pot-luck Holiday party and clearly they share esprit de corps, even if all from different organizations, chilled and exhausted.

White House Forum on Environmental Justice in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
White House Forum on Environmental Justice in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

The event i was covering - The White House Forum on Environmental Justice - was not out in the cold, but in the state-of-the-art South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House, so I was able to do my reporting in comfort.

The White House is a massive, high-security complex of buildings that functions as a governmental community, with large staff and extensive on-site facilities. Visiting on official business gives me greater appreciation for the effectiveness of the Obama administration, as his White House is run by good people, and they are running it well.

I did not see any $2,000 toilet seats or custom embroidered carpet... no free coffee for the press or at the forum... the guards are not napping behind their security desk at the NW Gate - everything I saw of the White House is high quality, well tended, and a good use of our tax dollars at work.

Now you've seen what Dan Rather sees at work. It's not fancy, but it works for the President.



Citizen speaking at First White House Environmental Justice Forum 2010

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Backstage White House

  Great photage. Thanks for the White House tour :)

norm please join the national press club http://press.org/

norm please join the national press club

http://press.org/

yogi and guy

http://www.disclosureproject.com TRUTH - EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

http://www.nationalwardogsmonument.org

Write up on First White House Forum on Environmental Justice