November 21, 2013

Associated Press | NPPA | Peta Pixel | National Journal

A coalition of news organizations, including the Associated Press, ABC News, The Washington Post and Reuters called for better access to the president and the White House today in a letter addressed to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The letter says, in part:

“Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.”

The National Press Photographers Association also put its name to the protest. “Media organizations including NPPA have been keeping track of all the times on the president’s schedule when something has been marked ‘private,’ or when there’s been a news lid issued by the Press Office, only to find a White House photograph from the event show up a short time later on its official Web site,” NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher said.

From the White House Flickr page

“We have never been granted access to the President at work in the Oval Office accompanied by his staff,” AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said. “Previous administration regularly granted such access.”

On Nov. 11, Peta Pixel wrote about Associated Press editors’ complaints over “propaganda” photos released by the White House.

The AP was among organizations that sent sent a similar letter in 2009, Erin Madigan writes.

Ron Fournier writes about the protest Thursday in National Journal, highlighting the difference between press photographers and White House photogs.

Unlike media photographers, official White House photographers are paid by taxpayers and report to the president. Their job is to make Obama look good. They are propagandists – in the purest sense of the word.

The letter reminds Carney that Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history. It argues that the restrictions “raise constitutional concerns” and amount to “arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities.”

This past January, after Nancy Pelosi’s office released a doctored photo that added lawmakers to a group picture, White House News Photographers Association President Ron Sachs told Poynter the increased use of photographs handed out by the government is “a very disturbing trend.”

Related: White House press complain about access to president | The dangerous delusions of the White House press corps and the president | White House beat is ‘only stenography if you choose it to be’ | White House uses embargoes as yet another way to drive reporters crazy

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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