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Remarks at the Annual White House News Photographers' Association Dinner

May 15, 1986

Well, thank you, Ken Blaylock, and thank you all. And, by the way, Ken, I understand that you were the first president of this organization to serve a third consecutive term. Congratulations! Hmm. Hey, a third term -- that's not a bad idea. [Laughter] But it's an honor to be able to join the White House News Photographers' Association on your 65th anniversary. I guess I'd better begin with an apology for being a little late. I told the man at the hotel desk I was looking for a roomful of people in blue jeans. [Laughter]

But it's a relief to see you without all those foreign-made cameras for once. You know, I was told that as the press plane entered Tokyo airspace for the summit your equipment started beeping ``Home, Sweet Home.'' [Laughter] But there isn't a person here who isn't willing to go to great lengths to get a good shot. Just this afternoon I stepped outside the Oval Office to feed the squirrels. Six photographers came out of the bushes. [Laughter] It was okay; I had enough peanuts to go around. [Laughter]

You know, it's not easy having so many photographers around. For instance, I've told everybody my right side is my good side -- my far right side. Keeping my right side to the cameras is no problem when I walk home from the Oval Office in the evening. But morning it's a different thing. Do you know what it's like to start the day by walking to the office backwards? [Laughter]

Tip O'Neill once asked me how I keep myself looking so young for the cameras. I told him I have a good makeup team. It's the same people who've been repairing the Statue of Liberty. [Laughter] Now, I know that sometimes there's a little professional jealousy between you and the other news people at the White House, especially the TV reporters. One item I hear from time to time is how much more those TV journalists get paid. But you have to understand how they have to spend the difference on hairspray. [Laughter]

But to be serious for just a moment, your work has an appeal and a power all its own. The TV reporter is on for a few minutes, and then he's off. Your work lasts. The print journalists may be able to analyze and explain a story at length. Your work presents a story in a second, vividly, unforgettably. It was a photographer, Mathew Brady, who gave us the images of Lincoln that fix the face of that great President in the mind of every schoolchild. It was news photographers who gave us pictures of the epic battles in World War II: The marines struggling to raise the flag on Iwo Jima; landing barges crashing ashore on the Normandy beaches. And it's news photographers, the photographers here in this room, who have shared with the country both the high drama and the simple humanity of this office, of the Presidency, snapping, for example, J.F.K concentrating at his desk while John-John played on the floor. Your work is not passing like so much of the news, but a living part of our historical record.

And now, I've talked long enough. And, Ken Blaylock and Paul Lyons, I think you're supposed to come over here and, between the three of us, we're to present some awards.

[At this point the awards were presented.]

Well, congratulations to the honorees who have come up here and to all of you. Thank all of you very much, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:40 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Shoreham Hotel. Kenneth Blaylock was the president of the association, and Paul Lyons was a freelance photographer. Steven Affens, of WJLA - TV, received the TV Tape and Film Cameraman of the Year Award; and Frank Johnston, of the Washington Post, received the Still Photography Award. The two honorees jointly received the Grand Award in recognition of their acheivements.