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White House Press Corp. Protests Video/Photo Exclusions

Says Limits on Photography are Attempt to Supplant Independent Journalism with Video Releases 11/21/2013 2:15 PM Eastern

 

White House journalists are complaining that the Obama Administration's limits on photos and videos of some events is an effort to supplant independent journalists with press releases.

The major network news operations, cable and broadcast, are part of a group over three dozen news operations -- from The Washington Post and The New York Times to AP and Reuters -- that have written to protest limits on their ability to videotape or photograph the President.

The letter, addressed to press secretary Jay Carney, says they hope it will be the first step in lifting the restrictions. They say they are not bucking limits on access to the private residence or national security restrictions, but on fundamentally public duties.

The news organizations say the White House has been deeming some activities as "private" as a way to limit access to certain events, then releasing its own picture of the event on social media.

Among the events they site are the President's meeting with members of the Hispanic Caucus, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (the White House tweeted its own photo), and a meeting with African American Faith Leaders.

"The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases."

The groups says the exclusions are a major break with past precedent, and a very troubling one with First Amendment implications.

"The organizations and individuals signing this letter strongly believe that imposing limits on press access your office has done, represents a troubling precedent with a direct and adverse impact on the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing," they wrote.

Signing on to the letter were:

ABC News

Agence France-Presse

American Society of News Editors

American Society of Media Photographers

Associated Press

Associated Press Media Editors

Associated Press Photo Managers

Association of Alternative Newsmedia

Association of Opinion Journalists

Bloomberg News

CBS News

CNN

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Fox News Channel

Gannett Co., Inc.

Getty Images

Lee Enterprises, Incorporated

The McClatchy Company

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

National Press Club

National Press Photographers Association

NBC News

New England First Amendment Coalition

News Media Coalition

Newspaper Association of America

The New York Times Co.

Online News Association

Professional Photographers of America

Radio Television Digital News Association

Regional Reporters Association

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Reuters

Society of Professional Journalists

Tribune Company

The Washington Post

White House Correspondents’ Association

White House News Photographers Association

Yahoo! Inc.

September