Friday, November 22, 2013

News Photogs Snap Over Exclusion From White House Photo Ops

English: Jay Carney giving a press briefing.
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The news media's and the Obama Administration's tenuous relationship has taken a turn for the worse as 38 news organizations, ranging from the New York Times and the major networks to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, fired off a letter to Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney objecting to photojournalists being excluded from numerous White House events.

According to accounts by Reuters and the Washington Post, the press members are upset that news photographers have been barred from snapping pictures at "private" events where the White House subsequently releases its own photos through the social media, generally taken by Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza (full disclosure: the photo-lovin' staff of "TUOL" last month attended an event honoring Souza at Boston University's College of Communication, from which Souza and "TUOL" both graduated).

The press corps cited a half-dozen events, including President Obama being photographed sitting in the same bus as civil rights heroine Rosa Parks rode in 1955 and the President sitting in the same jail cell once occupied by Nelson Mandela, that were newsworthy but photographed only by the White House's own photographer.

Whereas the White House considers the photos generated by Souza and other White House photographers as extending to the public access to the president's activities, those who sent Carney the letter dismiss them as "visual press releases."

With the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing NSA spying disclosures, the Obama Administration doesn't need to erode further its shaky relationship to the press by reserving to itself the decision as to what constitutes news versus an Obama family "Kodak moment."

UPDATE (11/26/13): USA Today and the Tacoma News Tribune today said they no longer will accept for publication photos provided by the White House for events that the news outlets believe should have been accessible to the press.
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