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Little media interest in Bush vacation: chartered presidential press plane canceled due to lack of journalists.

Little media interest in Bush vacation

Chartered presidential press plane canceled due to lack of journalists

When President Bush took off recently for a four-day vacation in Florida, there was no additional press plane, and reporters not in the pool took commercial flights.

The chartered press plane was canceled simply because there were not enough journalists to make it affordable. Because the cost of the plane -- paid for by the media -- is a fixed amount, the rate depends on how many people plan to fly. Obviously, if there are fewer journalists, the cost per person increases.

Only about 27 people had signed up to take the charter plane, which would have cost them about $1,800 to $2,000 per person, explained White House Correspondents Association president Bob Ellison of Sheridan Broadcasting. As the cost approached $3,000 per person, news organizations opted to fly commercial.

Charles Bierbauer of Cable News Network, WHCA vice president, noted that on a vacation trip like the one to Florida, when the president is not expected to make much news, traveling commercially is not a difficulty.

However, when the president makes a more newsworthy flight, such as his trip a few days later to California, and when he stops in three or four cities in a day or two, it is much more important to have the charter plan traveling in tandem and in an expedited fashion with the president, explained Bierbauer, who is slated to become WHCA president at the end of the month.

He noted that the networks, especially, have been covering most of the cost of charter flights for Bush's weekend or vacation stops, since they not only require more personnel, but also do not have the same option as print media, which can use wire service copy instead of sending their own reporters.

Now that broadcast outlets are cutting back as well, Bierbauer said he thinks decisions about flights will be made on a case-by-case basis and, he added, canceling the charter may happen more often in the future.

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Author:Gersh, Debra
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Apr 13, 1991
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