January 8, 2014

Politico | National Journal

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

On Wednesday, press photographers were allowed to photograph a weekly lunch meeting between President Obama and Vice President Biden, Hadas Gold reports in Politico.

The lunches are normally private, but the press, frustrated by the administration’s policy of limiting photos to those taken by an official White House photographer, has been pressuring them for greater access.

“This is part of our effort to make good on our promise to provide more access to photographers who cover the White House,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

The photo op comes after the December meeting between the White House Press Secretary and several press organizations in December. David Boardman, Dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication and president of the American Society of News Editors, told Poynter that a working group would come out of the meeting to look at issues of access in the past and offer guidelines for the future.

“I think and expect this was not just a meeting of niceties and platitudes, but that it was the beginning of a process that’s going to result in some concrete steps,” said Boardman, who is on Poynter’s National Advisory Board.

Wednesday’s photo op could be one of those concrete steps, or as Matthew Vasilogambros writes in National Journal, an attempt to blunt criticism of Biden in former Defense Secretary Bob Gates book.

This is a move by the White House to show the pair, likely looking happy and friendly, together in the White House, promoting a narrative that the president trusts the vice president’s counsel. This photographic opportunity rarely, if ever, happens, judging by a review of the public schedule in recent months.

The White House, meanwhile, is denying the photo op has to do with the Gates book. Instead, it’s about making “good on our promise to provide more access.”

In November, a coalition of press organizations delivered an open letter to the White House, requesting better access to the president. Later that month, USA Today and several other organizations announced they’d no longer publish photo handouts from the White House.

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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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