No one entertainer. Wine policy explained in advance via Twitter feed. Not even the Washington Hilton to complain about. “On June 19, change is coming to Washington press dinners,” the Radio Television Correspondents Association trumpets in a video it posted last month on the dinner’s Facebook fan page and on YouTube.
Instead of a comedian or impressionist, guests at the Convention Center on Friday night will hear music from Sweet Honey in the Rock, the all-female African-American a cappella group that the RTCA dinner organizers tout as “a favorite of the First Lady.” Humor will come from JibJab.com, which says on its blog that it is “beyond thrilled” that its first satire of the Obama administration will premiere in front of the man himself. (The satirists entertained President George W. Bush with “What We Call the News” at the 2007 dinner, as well.) Onion News Network will have a “special report.”
“For our dinner, entertainment is a plural term, not a singular term,” says Heather Dahl, a producer at Feature Story News and the dinner’s chair.
Despite the smaller table buys from some news organizations in this money-crunched year, what will stay the same, she says, is the attendance: Her preliminary estimates are that the crowd will number in the ballpark of recent dinners, around 2,000 attendees.
International news organizations took more tables, Dahl says, and some journalists whose employers refused to pony up for full tables have paid their own way. “I believe this shows that people really want to go out and have a nice evening, so that’s what we’re going to deliver,” she says.