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Audio

  • “Musical Desks” in the House Radio-TV Gallery

  • Close Relationship Between the House Radio-TV Gallery and the House Parliamentarians

    Insight on the relationship between the House Radio-TV Gallery and the House Parliamentarians, as well as the growing volume of information about the House available to staff and the press.
    Interview recorded July 12, 2007 – View transcript | Deed of Gift

    Full Text: Close Relationship Between the House Radio-TV Gallery and the House Parliamentarians

    [close]

    The other things that were different in the ’70s especially, and even in the ’80s, were how much information we got from the leadership. You did not get the same sort of…Right now, you get conference papers that come by e-mail, you get, you know, on the Web sites, you get the schedules, you get all of these talking points, all of these legislative details, you get a breakdown of the bill, you get the amendments that are going to be offered. You get those all delivered to you. And those are the kinds of things we track for reporters, but it goes to the reporters as well. You get inundated with information from all different sources, minority and majority. In the ’70s and ’80s, you didn’t have much other information coming in, so we had a much closer relationship with the Parliamentarian’s Office. We spent a good bit of time working with them, and we would always—we were on the floor when there was a question, a parliamentary question. We still have floor access, but we hardly need it now because we would actually have to go down and get copies of amendments that had not been printed until the time they brought them to the floor or check out what was going on with the Parliamentarian or his staff. So we had much more of a direct communication with the Parliamentarian’s Office. We were expected to have all of the parliamentary procedures down pat. But if there was any kind of a change, or any kind of a schedule arrangement, or any surprises, we would do much more with them directly than we need to now. Now, you know by the beginning of the day if there’s going to be a conflict later on, and it’s all much more programmed than it was then. It was much more spontaneous, as were the speeches, much more spontaneous.

  • Effect of Televised Proceedings on the Reporting of Congress

    Overview of the impact of live televised House proceedings on the reporting of Congress.
    Interview recorded August 28, 2008 – View transcript | Deed of Gift

    Full Text: Effect of Televised Proceedings on the Reporting of Congress

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    That actually has been fairly dramatic–the reporting of Congress–because you didn’t have televised hearings, you needed to be there. So a member of the press needed to sit in the chamber and listen to the speeches. Now we kept a running log, and we would alert people when major things were happening. But you had much more–in the early days, in the ’70s and ’80s, you had a House producer and a House reporter for every major network. And they were assigned to the House. You had other outlets that had someone who covered the House all the time. Newspapers had people who covered the House or the Senate or both all the time. Now there are very few reporters–broadcast reporters–on the House side. CNN still keeps a reporter. MSNBC has a reporter. But it’s mostly producers. That doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it is. Because if you’re trying to get one of the 22 minutes of a newscast on a national network, you have to sell a story because you’ve got such a vital story. So for the national networks–the broadcast networks, not the cable networks–for the broadcast networks, you don’t get the chance to get on air unless you’ve got a reporter who’s going to be on air [who] is invested in getting that story on air and convincing his editors here–the desk in Washington, the desks in New York–that this is worth the 80 seconds it may get on the evening news or the morning shows.

  • House Radio-TV Gallery Superintendents

    Recollections of the first two superintendents of the House Radio-TV Gallery.
    Interview recorded June 28, 2007 – View transcript | Deed of Gift

    Full Text: House Radio-TV Gallery Superintendents

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    Well, Mr. Menaugh had been the original superintendent. The gallery was established in 1939, and he had been the original director. There have only been, now, four. I was the third. And, he had a wonderful relationship with Members of Congress directly, and this is another change. Directors, then, dealt directly with chairmen of committees, as well as not only the press secretaries for the committees, but the chief of staffs for the committees because it was a much smaller staff apparatus, and there was much less media coverage. And, because he had that comfortable relationship with Members, which I couldn’t have at that time because (1) I was female, and (2) I was in my 20s—but you had somebody who had grown up in the House and had been in the House all that time and was very comfortable working with Members, so that was just a very different era.

    When Mike came in as director, he changed a lot of things, and he was much more interested in really getting a professional television approach and taught me a lot about how to think about what these people were going to want. He would take me along to meetings, he was a good mentor in that regard, to learn from him what people expected and what they wanted. I did learn a lot about what was going to be the role I would do, and then I took it from there. I think it changed after he left because it changed radically with the onset of satellite trucks, and local television covering like national television did. So you didn’t just think about the national groups; you also had to think about the local groups, and you had to think about what they would do on a day-to-day basis. So both Bob Menaugh’s demeanor, character, and style and Mike’s true interest in the technology and the newsworthiness of things were very good examples for me and very good help to getting me to my job—to do my job.

  • Live TV and its Impact on the House Radio-TV Gallery

    Detailed explanation of how the evolution of the 24-hour news cycle changed the day-to-day operations of the House Radio-TV Gallery.
    Interview recorded August 28, 2008 – View transcript | Deed of Gift

    Full Text: Live TV and its Impact on the House Radio-TV Gallery

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    Well, the big change was when you got live television. I mean live, 24-hour news coverage. The big change was when you—CNN did a lot of coverage and was competing with the networks, but not directly. They had 24 hours, and you would have to make arrangements not just for the networks to be there, but that you’ve got this other group. Things that the networks wouldn’t have covered CNN would. So that extended it a little. Where the big change came was when MSNBC and Fox came online. So now CNN had competition for 24 hours. So it wasn’t just more stories. Now all those stories, in order to be compelling, had to go live. And that’s the big change for us. It’s one thing to set up a stakeout; it’s another thing to set up a live stakeout. And that expanded. Now we’d been gradually increasing the number of places in the building where live capability was possible. That has been a progression. And we thought, in terms of any construction, we’ve got to be sure that we’ve got live coverage, even though we didn’t know how much room we were going to have. We went ahead and wired anyplace that they opened up the walls.

  • The House Radio-TV Gallery

    Overview of the responsibilities of the House Radio-TV Gallery during the 1970s and 1980s.
    Interview recorded June, 28, 2007 – View transcript | Deed of Gift

    Full Text: The House Radio-TV Gallery

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    So you would set aside committee seats. You would get witness lists. You would get committee testimony. And, you would stay around to be sure that if anything was shot, they got the shots they needed. We didn’t have a lot of pool coverage at the time, so most of it was independent cameras coming in and setting up. Then, you’d be in the chamber for—during the whole time the House was in session. And, we stayed until special orders were over. We don’t do that anymore because nobody carries that. It’s a valuable part of the House, but it is not a part that television carries. So that was something we would always do. So your nights could be very late because they could go late on special orders, even after legislative business was over. And, we worked on Saturdays; we worked a half-day on Saturdays. We would only have one person in on the day, but every Saturday, somebody was in for a half a day. So, the pacing was much slower, with a more concentrated group of people that you knew needed to get access.

    What you did have then, that you have not had for a long time, now, is both a producer and a reporter from the major networks. You have a producer and a reporter on the Hill, but not in both the House and the Senate gallery. Then, you had them both in the House and Senate gallery. And there was a bit of a hierarchy in terms of how a person made their career in the networks. They would start off being a House correspondent, then they would be a Senate correspondent, then they would be a White House correspondent, and if they got really lucky, they would be an anchor. So those—we knew a lot of the people who got to be in those positions because they had come through the House.

Video

  • Background on Speaker’s Press Conferences

    Detailed history of the Speaker’s Press Conferences and ways in which the House Radio-TV Gallery assisted broadcasters in their coverage of Congress.
    Interview recorded December 4, 2009 – Deed of Gift

  • Members, Press, and the Radio-TV Gallery

    Explanation of the role of the House Radio-TV Gallery in helping to keep the American public informed about the work of Congress.
    Interview recorded December 4, 2009 – Deed of Gift

  • Opening Day Traditions of a New Congress

    Institutional role of the House Radio-TV Gallery in broadcasting the Opening Day of a new Congress.
    Interview recorded December 4, 2009 – Deed of Gift

  • Press Conferences in Statuary Hall after the State of the Union Address

    Historical background on the technical requirements and logistical operations for the television coverage of Members’ responses in Statuary Hall following the State of the Union Address.
    Interview recorded December 4, 2009 – Deed of Gift

  • Return to the Capitol on September 11, 2001

    Eyewitness account of the informal and symbolic gathering of Members of Congress on the Capitol steps in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.
    Interview recorded December 4, 2009 – Deed of Gift

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