I saw the word, “closed press” in Time magazine’s (August 15) article titled “Chris Christie lays out argument for 2016.”

“Christie spoke at length about his record in New Jersey, emphasizing accomplishments like teacher benefit reform and bringing down the Garden State’s budget deficit. Christie’s remarks were closed press, but multiple guests provided quotes and recordings.”

And I saw “closed press” in the following instance:

“Obama Accepts Transparency Award in Closed Press Ceremony. March 30, 2011. President Obama finally and quietly accepted his “transparency” award from the open government community this week — in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday.”


From the above sentence,’ I was able to easily surmise that “Closed Press” means a meeting / event shutting out press / reporters, and I checked Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster online dictionary to make sure of it, and found that none of them carries “closed press” as a heading. I wonder why none of them carries the word.

On the other hand, Google Ngram shows emergence of “closed press” in 1870s. The currency peaked in 1940 at 0.00000016% level, and has tailored off to a low 0.00000004% level since 2000. But I can’t tell whether Ngram shows “closed press” as V+N, or a noun.

With that said, here are my questions:

  1. Is “closed press” a well-established English word?
  2. What is the alternative word to “closed press” e.g. unofficial remark or meeting?
  3. Though I don’t find any problem in the line, “Obama accepts Transparency Award in Closed Press Ceremony,” the statement, “Christie’s remarks were closed press” sounds somewhat foreign to me, because it appears to me as if saying [Christie’s remark = closed press]. Is it rhetorically and logically a perfect line?
  • 1
    Isn't it an ellipsis of closed to the press?
    – Dan D.
    Aug 16, 2013 at 7:33
  • Yah, I'm more comfortable with Christie’s remarks 'closed to the press' than 'Christie’s closed press remarks.' Aug 16, 2013 at 10:34
  • I'm not aware of "closed press" being used in BrE, altho' I would understand it's meaning. We would normally have "closed to the press", although that it not suitable for use as a compound adjective.
    – TrevorD
    Aug 16, 2013 at 10:50
  • Don't forget that nouns and noun phrases can function as adjectives in English. So saying "Christie's remarks were closed press" is a logical construction, however awkward it may sound, and readily understood by native speakers of the non-British persuasion.
    – Robusto
    Aug 16, 2013 at 14:44
  • Robusto-san. I feel at home with the expression, “His remark is off-topic,” but somewhat not-at-home with “His remark is closed press.” I don’t know why. Aug 16, 2013 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


NOAD, in its entry for the adjective closed, lists this definition (among others):

closed (adj.) limited to certain people; not open or available to all : the UN Security Council met in closed session.

I often see closed used in this sense, where closed gets used in conjunction with another word, usually a noun. Thus, as you read the news, you might stumble across any of these terms:

  • closed session
  • closed press
  • closed-door meeting
  • behind closed doors

In all of those, the word closed indicates that the public (or the media) were neither invited nor welcome to attend. It's essentially another way of saying private. It's worth noting that the phrase behind closed doors refers to who was barred from attending, and not so much whether or not the door to the meeting room was physically closed. In other words, it's metaphorical – although it's also quite likely that, in a closed-door meeting, the door in fact was closed.

The phrase closed press may not have made its way into any dictionaries yet, but closed-door has. I think most native readers wouldn't bat an eye at the closed press expression (especially in the context of a high profile politician who holds many press conferences), and they would immediately understand what it means.

As for “Christie’s remarks were closed press,” I might have been tempted to use a hyphen:

Christie’s remarks were closed-press.

but I have no problem with a journalist writing it the way it was written.

  • 1
    I disagree that “most native readers wouldn't bat an eye at the closed press expression [...] and they would immediately understand what it means”. I think it's likely to be taken to mean closed to the general public, open to some invited press (analogous to closed sets being inclusive) Aug 16, 2013 at 15:28
  • @jwpat7: I would assume that there would be no press in a "closed press session" - but that's just an assumption on my part. Thanks for your comment; different perspectives often make these discussions about language much more interesting.
    – J.R.
    Aug 16, 2013 at 15:38

I also don't consider "closed press" a very clear term.

Is a "closed press meeting" one that is closed to any press? OR one that is closed to any press other than invited press?

To me it sounds more like the latter, even if the writer using it may be intending something else.

In any case, it is easy to insert another small word to make the sentence grammatically correct and completely understandable:

Christie's remarks were closed to press. The policy was discussed in a meeting closed to press.

Or just write, a "no-press meeting"

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