By: Addison Smith | Opinions Editor
There are 49 seats in Washington, D.C. that are heavily contested and desired by many. Forty nine seats in the White House that are strained for, with better seating being strained for even more.
These 49 seats are the White House Press Room briefing room seats, and sitting in them are the journalists who ask questions at White House press conferences.
Recently, the layout of the White House briefing room changed as Buzzfeed and Al Jazeera joined the ranks of those with seating, if only shared with other news organizations.
According to a recent USA Today article entitled “Here’s the new White House briefing room seating chart”, any seat is better than no seat, but within the seats there’s a hierarchy.
Sounds like high school, doesn’t it? Better yet, it sounds like politics.
To simplify the importance of these seats and to better explain seating arrangements, let’s go a little bit Lindsay Lohan and give the run-down of the White House press briefing room in terms of Mean Girls.
The “plastics” make up the front row, with the Associated Press starring as Regina George, front and center of every press conference. Then, there’s Fox News, who can be imagined as the Cady Herron of the front row. After Helen Thomas, the United Press International Correspondent, left her seat in the front row, many veyed to take over for her. Winning the battle and the hearts of the White House Press Association was Fox News, the newest plastic on the block.
So, where do Buzzfeed and Al Jazeera fit in with this group? They’re not even Janice and Ian level, they’re “made out with a hot dog” level. With shared seats, the two organizations aren’t exactly gaining anyone’s attention. Add in the fact that Buzzfeed and Al Jazeera are in the last and third to last row respectively, many questions won’t be yielded from them.
Essentially, placement is key and the more viewers you have, the more likely you are to move up in the ranks of the briefing room. However, if seating was based solely on popularity of the news organization, seemingly BuzzFeed wouldn’t be in the back corner. While the face of media may be changing, the importance of Fox News, Associated Press, CNN and other major media outlets remains the same. While many are getting their news from ancillary sources now, such as Buzzfeed who often has source links to their news stories, everything goes back to the big media companies.
While media’s faces are ever changing, the “plastics” will always be the plastics and your go-t0 news sources, and will continue to be your commonplace names.
However, many are starting to believe in “virality” as a trend amongst news organizations, so new videos premiering for the Green Party in the United Kingdom were launched exclusively via Buzzfeed. The world we live in is more receptive to boy bands and lists, apparently. Therefore, a music video portraying famous British politicians as boy band members is obviously the way to garner attention.
But the Green Party isn’t the only one using Buzzfeed to promote itself and its initiatives, as the White House itself has used Buzzfeed to host videos with President Barack Obama. That’s right, the people who were given a seat by the White House also have used POTUS for their own means.
That’s the world we live in, where reading a “10 reasons why…” list is easier for us to consume than a long editorial on a subject. We’ve been reading the regurgitated news via Twitter and Facebook for a while, so the White House adjusted accordingly to the news around it.
Is Buzzfeed’s seat in the press briefing room a travesty? No, honestly it’s something that was inevitable with the way information is spread today. To continue to be an innovative presidency, this White House needed to acknowledge Buzzfeed as a source for the news.
Now, the rest of the world needs to own up to its credibility too.