Two of the news organizations that won’t be taking as many people to the RTCA dinner this year as in the past are PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and ABC News.
In conjunction with “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal,” “The Newshour” normally takes 15 tables, but this year, it is down to just two. The show’s financial crunch in the last year, due to corporate underwriting cutbacks, has been well documented.
“It’s a tight economic climate and we can’t afford it,” says Rob Flynn, VP of communications and marketing. “The organization is important to us and we’d like to do more.” Indeed, Linda Scott, producer of Capitol Hill and Congressional coverage for “The NewsHour,” will serve as chair of next year’s dinner.
Despite the smaller presence, the “NewsHour” snagged a high-profile administration guest. Sitting at one of its tables will be retired Marine Gen. James Jones, the National Security Adviser, and his wife Diane.
Also at the tables: “NewsHour” correspondent (and soon to be co-anchor) Judy Woodruff, PBS President CEO Paula Kerger and her husband Joe Kerger; the new COO of PBS, Michael Jones and his wife, Vicki Hawkins-Jones; and Les Crystal, the president of MacNeil Lehrer Productions. Ms. Ifill won’t be in attendance because “Washington Week” duty calls.
ABC News, meanwhile, will have just a single table. George Stephanopoulos won’t be there, but Jonathan Karl, the network’s senior congressional correspondent, will be in attendance, and of course Robin Sproul, VP and Washington bureau chief.
“We made a decision to cut back and have a smaller presence at the dinner this year. Since the White House Correspondents’ dinner was Obama’s first journalism dinner as President, we had a greater presence there and the guests to show for it. We’d also rather focus our resources on covering the news right now,” said spokeswoman Emily Lenzner.