By Phillip Jackson
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, April 28, The White House held its Inaugural College Reporter Day, gathering 50 students from across the country. Student reporters were able to interview staff members and correspondents of The White House during press briefings held throughout the day.
There were at least six Historically Black College students in attendance. Hampton University was represented by yours truly. Students arrived at 8 a.m., with their first event being led by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. After his introduction, the floor was opened for questions from the selected college reporters.
The next discussion at 10 a.m. was with White House correspondents Scott Horsley, Toluse Olurnnipa, Christi Parsons, Carolyn Kaster, Jon Karl, and Jen Bendery. Many student questions focused on what it is like to cover the White House on a daily basis, and the access to information that reporters can receive throughout the tenure of their reporting.
Most reporters receive more information based on their reputation. Initially, said the correspondents, it can be tough for young reporters. As writers of color, there are not many black reporters that have the job of covering what goes on in the White House.
Many events covered range from new bills the president proposes, where he plans to travel, and who visits the home.
After the discussion with White House correspondents the next press briefing centered on the "It's on Us" campaign against college crime and sexual assault. Questions were answered by White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Kyle Lierman.
"If you as students know that there is a pattern or practice that you deem to be inappropriate practice, you should take that up with the Department of Education," said Jarrett.
The next session focused on national issues. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there has been a lot of conversation on whether President Barack Obama should be able to select the next member of the Supreme Court. Although Obama recommended Judge Merrick Garland, many members of Congress have not met with the judge or intend to vote on the recommendation.
White House Senior Adviser Brian Desse and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston spoke on the Supreme Court nomination. "So when Neil got that call, then the president found out about Justice Scalia's passing, from that moment, he's had a pretty clear vision about how he wanted to approach this," said Desse. "As of today, Judge Garland was up on the hill. He has two meetings with senators today. This is the end of the April work period."
That led to the final press briefing with Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and, a surprise visit from President Barack Obama.
"Was Josh thorough in his briefing?" the president asked. "Well, I heard you guys were around today, so I wanted to stop by and say hello. I also have a bit of breaking news for you, and then I might take some questions."
Obama prepares this week to travel to Flint, Michigan.
The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.