The White House Correspondents’ Association today joins dozens of news associations and media outlets in protesting White House policies that ban photojournalists from covering the president at certain events while releasing government photos and videos of the same events.
“Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties,” the WHCA and other news organizations said in a letter Thursday to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“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 letter, also signed by such groups as the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Associated Press Managing Editors and the White House News Photographers Association as well as individual media outlets, notes that the White House has argued that certain events with the president are private and should not be opened to the news media.
However, in instance after instance, the White House has proved that claim false by allowing its own photographers and videographers into the same events and then releasing those photos or videos to a nationwide audience.
“You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases,” the groups said in the letter.
The practice is a troubling break from tradition, and belies the president’s vow to be more transparent.
“The right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials acting in their official capacities,” the letter said.
“Previous administrations have recognized this, and have granted press access to visually cover precisely these types of events, thus creating government transparency. It is clear that the restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercuts the President’s stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition. To exclude the press from these functions is a major break from how previous administrations have worked with the press.”
The groups asked for a meeting to make the case face to face for a change in policy.
The White House Correspondents’ Association represents the White House press corps. It will mark its 100th year next year.
Edit: Read more on this here.