A new commission to recommend changes in the way presidential press conferences are organized was announced yesterday by former Virginia governor Linwood Holton and Ray Scherer, a former NBC White House correspondent who is now a vice president of RCA.
The commission intends to present the newly elected president with proposals designed to make the press conferences better serve him, the press and the public.
Holton said no one is served by the current "circus-like atmosphere" and that its continuation "will only cause a further erosion of public confidence in the presidency, media and government."
The project is one of the studies of the presidency being conducted by the White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. It is funded by a grant from the John R. and Mary Markle Foundation of New York City.
Other commission members are former Washington Post White House correspondent Carroll Kilpatrick; Douglass Cater, a former special to President Johnson; Julius Duscha, director of the Washington Journalism Carter; Robert Pierpoint of CBS, president of the White House Correspondents Association; James Rowe, a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's staff, and Felicia Warburg Rogan, an author and civic leader.
Former secretary of state Dean Rusk and New York Times columnist James Reston will participate in the commission's meetings.
Holton said spadework for the commission was done earlier this year at a series of meetings among officials of the Miller center, former presidential press secetaries, reporters and commission members.