"The fact of the matter is that the time when President Kennedy started televised press conferences there were only three or four newspapers in the entire United States that carried a full transcript of a presidential press conference. Therefore, what people read was a distillation... We thought that they should have the opportunity to see it in full."
From the auditorium of the State Department, President John Kennedy’s press conference was carried live on both radio and television. Although President Woodrow Wilson held the first presidential press conference on March 15,1913, and President Eisenhower held the first televised (film footage) press conference January 19, 1955, President John F. Kennedy was the first to use the medium of television to address the American people live without delay or editing.
Read President Kennedy’s message from that day in the Congressional Record.Live press conferences gave the public an opportunity to not just read about details of the presidential policies and proposals, but also see more into their personality and brand of leadership. With the changes in technology, choices for venues for the conferences have changed by presidency as well as the type of press session where presidents feel the most comfortable responding to reporters. Today’s live television allows presidents to have increased contact with reporters, while also allowing them to do it on their own terms. Source: Presidential Press Conferences (The White House Historical Association)
The Compilation of Presidential Documents collection consists of the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents which are the official publications of materials released by the White House Press Secretary. The Compilation of Presidential Documents is published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Search tips and other details about the collection are also great resources on govinfo!
Did you know?
- "By 1960, 87% of the public had television sets so Kennedy came into most living rooms and offices around the country. These sessions were uncut and live—as opposed to the ones Eisenhower had that were kept for later broadcast where clips were used. With Kennedy, the public got to see him as he spoke."
- View the video of the live televised 1961 news conference. (National Archives)
- Read The Kennedy White House and the Press, to find out more about the history and evolution of presidential press conferences. (The White House Historical Association)
- John F. Kennedy and the Press (JFK Presidential Library and Museum)
- JFK in Congress (National Archives)
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (National Archives)
- John F. Kennedy (The White House)
- View statistics on presidential news conferences. (The American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara)
- Educators, check out The Press Office: A Presidential News Conference Simulation (grades 9-12).
Students act as members of President Kennedy’s Press Office with an assignment to prepare a briefing for the president on topics that may come up in a specific press conference. To fulfill this assignment, students explore the Kennedy Library website, using both primary and secondary sources. As a culminating activity, students participate in a simulated press conference. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)