Covering Political Events

Covering local, regional or state political events is usually quite easy if you are a member of the press. Political candidates are looking for positive coverage and welcome all they can get. Every campaign is different. Some of the front runners may attract large numbers of the press. If so, you should contact the campaign manager a couple of days before the event to get their press guidelines. Follow their rules, and you will usually succeed. For other less popular candidates, you can usually show up an hour before the event and ask where the press is allowed to work and get the access you need.

If you are attempting to access events involving high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries, you need to consider other more complicated issues. It takes special permission to attend many events. For example, if you desire to cover the USA President’s speech on foreign affairs, you will require a White House press pass. Space is limited. The White House Press Corps plus a few foreign press may be all that are allowed.

If you decide to proceed to apply for a White House press pass, you would first contact the Deputy Press Secretary at the White House online or in writing. If applicable, your request for a press application will be made available to you for completion. It must be returned to the Deputy Press Secretary. Once this is completed, the application will be turned over to the United States Secret Service for verification and a routine background check. If they discover everything to be in order and they have space available, you will be notified by the White House press office with further details. You may be required to present a minimum of three letters of reference and affiliation from major newspapers, magazines or broadcast outlets stating that you have worked for them in the past, with proof of work published, and that you are currently working on a story or photo essay. These are not standards that you can argue against.

If you need to cover foreign heads of state such as  French President Emmanuel Macron, you would contact the French Press Attaché to state the exact reason you wish to obtain a press pass and which event or person you wish to photograph or interview. Politeness and courtesy will go a long way in getting you what you desire here. However, expect to wait a little longer for replies to such requests. The same procedure applies to other foreign dignitaries around the world.

Remember, when dealing with dignitaries and officials of foreign embassies, you must always observe—to the highest degree of standards—the rules of etiquette and protocol. How embarrassed would you be if you learned that a handshake had a completely different meaning in another country? This could greatly affect your ability to obtain future assignments.

Finally, remember all political events are different and often change daily. Stay prepared and informed. Be flexible and ready to grab the opportunity to get the story when it happens.