By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — The annual gathering not far from the White House brings together journalists, government officials, politicians and media personalities for what's usually an evening of light-hearted banter and celebrity gawking.
Presidents are made fun of and they poke at themselves, too.
But President Barack Obama's scheduled appearance Saturday night at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner was coming at a somber time, nearly two weeks after the deadly Boston Marathon bombing and 10 days after a devastating fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
In 1995, in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, President Bill Clinton dispensed with the traditional presidential humor to remember victims and praise journalists for their coverage of the explosion.
Coincidentally, this year's dinner entertainer, comedian and late-night TV talk-show host Conan O'Brien, also headlined that 1995 gala.
Obama spent the afternoon on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base with former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and two White House aides.
Six journalists, including Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace, were to be awarded prizes for their coverage of the presidency and national issues.
The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza won the Aldo Beckman Award, which recognizes excellence in the coverage of the presidency.
Pace won the Merriman Smith Award for a print journalist for coverage on deadline.
ABC's Terry Moran was the winner of the broadcast Merriman Smith Award for deadline reporting.
Reporters Jim Morris, Chris Hamby and Ronnie Greene of the Center for Public Integrity won the Edgar A. Poe Award for coverage of issues of national significance.