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George Akerson's Legacy: Continuity and Change in White House Press Operations

Authors


  • AUTHORS' NOTE: We thank Martha Joynt Kumar for her comments, suggestions, and guidance.

Charles E. Walcott is a professor of political science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and coauthor (with Karen M. Hult) of Empowering the White House: Governance under Nixon, Ford and Carter; Governing the White House: From Hoover through LBJ; and Governing Public Organizations.

Karen M. Hult is a professor of political science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, author of Agency Merger and Bureaucratic Redesign and coauthor (with Charles E. Walcott) of Empowering the White House: Governance under Nixon, Ford and Carter; Governing the White House: From Hoover through LBJ; and Governing Public Organizations.

Abstract

The growth and structural evolution of the White House press office have been primarily responses to the burgeoning and diversification of the mass communications media. As the White House press corps has grown, the press office adapted through expansion and structural elaboration. At the same time, the emergence of an increasingly complex media culture, partly a result of technological changes, called into question the role of traditional press and press relations within the overall White House communications and public outreach apparatus. As a consequence, while the press office has remained a central component of the White House Office and has evolved to meet new demands, its organizational location and, to some extent, its influence have varied within and across administrations. Meanwhile, organizational precedents and the institutional memories of those in and out of the White House have helped dampen major changes in structuring for communications.

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