Massachusetts State House
Accommodation of the press corps in the Massachusetts State House is placed in the hands of the reporters themselves. Full-time news reporters assigned to the building constitute an autonomous Press Association, which for 110 years the Legislature has granted office space and accreditation powers.
An early president of the association, Raymond L. Bridgman, wrote in the 1920s of the responsibilities vested in State House reporters:
"The Association is a trustee of the state administration, on the one hand, to put the truth impartially before the public, in order that the fundamental condition of an efficient democracy -- information regarding the public business -- may be the supreme consideration. On the other hand, it is a trustee of the public, whom it holds in its power in a large degree and the public looks to it for the truth.
"It is incumbent upon the Association, therefore, and upon the members, severally and collectively, to insist upon a high standard of professional conduct and to make sure that they command the respect of the legislature and of the public officials with whom they come in contact and retain the confidence of the public whom they serve."
The first recorded press areas in the State House were created in 1835 -- "recesses" where reporters could sit in the four upper corners of the old Representatives' Hall, today's Senate Chamber. By 1888, the gallery above the rostrum had been built and assigned for reporters' use.
When the Brigham Extension (the State House's rear ell) was built in 1894, a Reporters' Room (455) was set aside with telephone booths, lockers, and a sink for members of the press corps.
The Press Association formed in 1909 and successfully sought the addition of Room 456 — originally a committee room — to the suite, and this expansion made it possible for reporters to have their own desks. Through the years, the association has represented reporters in the accreditation process, use of building space, addition of press parking, and conversations with legislative leadership about media access.
The arrival of electronic media in the early 20th century brought strife to the Press Gallery with at least one personality clash between a radio host and the traditional print media. The State House Broadcasters Association was organized in 1962 and given their own quarters, and the two groups operated side by side for decades.
The Press and Broadcasters associations merged in 2018, and today the Massachusetts State House Press Association fulfills its original mission to represent all news reporters in the building.