Obama Administration’s “Visual Press Releases”

The AP, Reuters and AFP refuse the White House’s handouts:

Three news agencies refused to distribute White House-provided photos of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, arguing that access should have been provided to news photographers.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse said the White House was breaking with long-standing tradition in not allowing news photographers to capture the president at work in the Oval Office on his first day.

“We are not distributing what are, in effect, visual press releases,” said Michael Oreskes, managing editor for U.S. news at the AP…

…Vincent Amaluy, director of photography for North and South America for AFP, said he suspected first-day confusion was more at play than an attempt to clamp down on access.

Hopefully, Amaluy’s generous reading of the situation turns out to be the correct one. The Obama camp has done the “we’ll provide photos” thing before. (Of course, that was an entirely different situation in that the images in question were not of official business but the business of Obama’s children going to school and news orgs were still able to capture their own images if they so chose).

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.