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article imageOp-Ed: White House managing photos of Obama

By Ken Hanly     Nov 22, 2013 in Politics
Washington - White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) reporters are fed up with their lack of access to President Obama and have sent a letter to White House spokesperson Jay Carney complaining about the situation.
The WHCA said that they and other news organizations were banned coverage of the president at certain events they categorize as private. However, the White House then releases videos and photographs from its own in house news and public relations operatives. This enables the White House to control the images of the president that are aired in the media.
The WHCA complains that the practice shows a lack of transparency. The full letter can be found here. The letter said: "....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. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases," The letter called this an alarming break with tradition. However, it is just a matter of extending a long tradition of trying to manage the news to portray presidents in a positive light.
The White House photographers are particularly annoyed by the activities of the White House official photographer Pete Souza who distributes hundreds of selected shots of Obama and other important officials at meetings from which the press is banned. He also sends these shots out through a Flickr feed, Instagram and Twitter. Souza has 94,000 followers on Twitter. The letter lists six recent events of great public interest from which regular photographers were barred but then official photos were subsequently released.
Included in the list were a meeting between Obama, vice president Biden and Middle East peace negotiators, as well as with Obama, Michelle Obama and Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai in October. Another report claims the letter lists seven recent events from which press was banned. I checked the letter and the seven figure is actually correct. Official White House photographers have existed for years but the reporters believe that present policy has crossed the line and substituted the White House PR photo wire service for their own independent coverage.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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