A “press gaggle” is an informal briefing by the White House press secretary that, unlike a backgrounder, is on the record.
However, video recording is not allowed.
Unlike formal press briefings or conferences, which are scheduled, meticulously organized, and frequently broadcast to the public, press gaggles usually occur off-camera and provide an opportunity for more candid exchanges.
Typically taking place in less structured environments—such as hallways, aboard Air Force One, or outside official buildings—gaggles allow journalists to ask questions that may not fit into the rigidity of a prepared press statement or briefing.
The term likens the members of the press corps to a “gaggle of geese” honking.
As the Washington Monthly explains:
Gaggles historically refer to informal briefings the press secretary conducts with the press pool rather than the entire press corps.
They used to happen in the morning, they were more or less off the record, and their purpose was mostly to exchange information – the president’s schedule and briefing schedule, from the administration side; heads-up on likely topics or early comment on pressing issues, from the news side.
Briefings were what everybody knows them to be.
Use of “press gaggle” in a sentence:
- Press gaggles are often used to provide reporters with updates on breaking news, to clarify statements made by government officials, or to address issues that are not substantial enough to warrant a full press conference.
- In recent years, the use of press gaggles has been criticized by some media outlets for being too controlled and for limiting access to government officials, particularly in the Trump administration.