Sign up for weekly updates

U.S. White House should stop restricting access to news photographers

Restrictions on access to the White House to cover President Barack Obama's activities by accredited news photographers is being criticized by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which called on the government to abolish such action, considering it to be “a serious obstruction of the practice of journalism and press freedom.”

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, urged the U.S. government to allow news photographers to do their work in an independent manner instead of only handing out official photos, something he said was “more to do with public relations than the mission of the press.”

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said that “the restriction of the work of photographers is a serious obstruction of the unfettered practice of journalism and press freedom.” He praised as “rational steps” the editorial stances taken or reaffirmed by the Gannett and McClatchy newspaper chains, among other media outlets and news agencies, to not publish the photos distributed by the White House when these could have been taken by news photographers.

In another IAPA protest last week the organization's president, Elizabeth Ballantine, editor of The Durango Herald, Durango, Colorado, expressed concern at the “White House's lack of openness and transparency concerning information. Each media outlet should be able to cover the presidential activities with full independence, in its own style and according to its editorial criteria.”

The IAPA's position was stated in support of a letter sent by a coalition of American media and press organizations to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, protesting the restricted access, for photographers, to President Obama's official activities.

A memo from the McClatchy company, which publishes 30 newspapers around the country, said it has decided not to publish the photos issued by the President's office, considering that “it's important to take a stance that helps send the message that limited access works against the public's interests, diminishes the flow of information and often creates an inaccurate portrait of events in the White House.”

The newspaper USA Today, one with the largest circulation in the country, owned by the Gannett company, announced that it would not be using photos coming from the White House press office “except in very extraordinary circumstances.”

Latest Tweet:

Violencia e impunidad, una constante del periodismo haitiano @sip_oficial @CPJAmericas #Haití

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.