USA Today will no longer publish canned or staged photos supplied by the White House, according to a memo written Sunday by the newspaper’s deputy director of multimedia, Andrew Scott.
The memo to the news staff said that “handout photos originating from the White House Press Office, except in very extraordinary circumstances,” such as those involving “legitimate national security restrictions” and those having “very high news value,” will no longer be used, according to Poynter.org.
Scott’s memo said:
We do not publish, either in print or online, handout photos originating from the White House Press Office, except in very extraordinary circumstances. In those very rare instances where a handout image from the White House image has been made under legitimate national security restrictions and is also of very high news value, the use needs to be approved in advance by consulting with Dave Callaway, David Colton, Owen Ullmann, Susan Weiss, Dave Teeuwen, Patty Michalski or me prior to publication.
The functions of the President at the White House are fundamentally public in nature, and should be documented for the public by independent news organizations, not solely by the White House Press Office.
The journalistic community feels so strongly about this that 38 news organizations, including Gannett, have sent a letter of formal protest to the White House.
Press photographers are angry about being excluded from covering meetings and other events, only to be handed “propaganda” photos. Media photographers are every bit as legitimate as reporters. A furrowed brow, rolled eyes or a bored yawn can tell more than words in print.
In protest, the following letter, signed by the owners of 40 media outlets, was hand-delivered 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.”
Pete Souza, who manages the official White House Twitter account, responded with this mocking tweet:
Pres Obama signs a bill in the Oval Office as press photographers take photos pic.twitter.com/dOBDAXQJV1
— petesouza (@petesouza) November 22, 2013
The editors at USA Today, at least, have had enough. Good for them. If everyone follows suit, the White House won’t have any coverage at all.
if you haven’t already, check out ‘Fasten your seat belt’: Judge Napolitano stuns Juan Williams
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