The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

December 11, 2013

Our View: No thanks to canned images

— A movement among media to boycott the use of “official” photographs of President Barack Obama provided by White House photographers is gaining support — including ours.

We want our readers to know that we are encouraging The Associated Press and other major media markets to turn down the canned images. We also protest the diminished access to the president by photojournalists.

By limiting photographers’ access, the Obama administration is attempting to control the public’s view of the president as he performs his duties.

The Associated Press Media Editors, of which The Joplin Globe is a member, is part of the large group of media organizations that recently sent a letter of protest to the White House.

In part, here’s what it said:

“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 states, adding that the restrictions imposed by the Obama White House represent a major break from the practices of past administrations, according to an Associated Press story.

Obama pledged transparency in government. That promise is being undermined by a policy that is absolutely wrong.

According to the AP, here are a few instances in which photojournalists were denied access:

• An Aug. 26 meeting with African-American faith leaders.

• A July 30 meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and Vice President Joe Biden.

• A July 29 meeting with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Associated Press says it distributes White House handout photos only if “they think the news value is compelling and the photo was taken in a place logically off-limits to journalists, such as a private residence.” Otherwise, the news agency will not use the photos.

This policy needs to go away, and the only way to make that happen is if major media refuse to publish the photos. As it stands, independent journalists are being turned into public relations employees.

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