April 8, 2012
To the esteemed White House Correspondents’ Association:
My name is Erica Anderson. I write to you today on personal accord and as a matter of the heart.
I am a young journalist who was fortunate enough to have been mentored by Helen Thomas. I understand from a friend that Helen requested to purchase a table at this year’s annual White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner, but that for logistical reasons, this request was denied. I understand others have contacted the WHCA about this. I want to humbly add my name.
Given that this year’s dinner, on April 28, will mark the 50th year anniversary in which female members were allowed into the event, and given Helen’s role in opening doors for women in journalism, I respectfully ask you to reconsider this request.
Indeed, I would hope that Helen Thomas receives special recognition on this occasion. Not only is she a former President of the WHCA, but she is also revered as one of America’s last living legacies of a class of pioneering female journalists who, in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s protested against gender discrimination and won.
I sincerely believe that when she said she wanted to share this evening with her family and friends, in her heart she was thinking of all those who had passed but would be there in spirit to celebrate such a momentous occasion.
I hope you agree what a deserving tribute it would be to honor Helen’s modest request.
For context, I lived in Washington D.C. between 2007 and 2010, when Helen was White House Press Corps Dean and I was a freshly minted journalism school graduate. Helen generously shared her thoughts and concerns about the application of journalism standards in an ever-shrinking news cycle, encouraging my own thinking about how core principles could fit into new journalism forms.
Thank you for considering my request that Helen Thomas be permitted to purchase a table at the correspondents’ dinner.
You can also kindly request the WHCA reconsider Helen’s request by submitting a note on the WHCA website.