A photojournalist for the Associated Press is pulling no punches in a s
cathing opinion piece published today in The New York Times, referring to the restrictions on press photographers covering the president as “draconian” and calling official photo releases “propaganda.”
The article written by Santiago Lyon, vice president and director of photography for the Associated Press, is titled “Obama’s Orwellian Image Control.”
Lyon takes issue with the release of pictures from official White House photographers as an “idealised portrayal of events” that could not be considered journalism. He also doesn’t mince words in his conclusion, calling these photos “propaganda.”
It’s worth reading in its entirety, but these two paragraphs are particularly forceful:
If you take this practice to its logical conclusion, why have news conferences? Why give reporters any access to the White House? It would be easier to just have a daily statement from the president (like his recorded weekly video address) and call it a day. Repressive governments do this all the time.
American presidents have often tried to control how they are depicted (think of the restrictions on portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair). But presidents in recent decades recognised that allowing the press independent access to their activities was a necessary part of the social contract of trust and transparency that should exist between citizens and their leaders.
Since 2009, press photographers have only been allowed to take pictures in the Oval Office twice — a far cry from the practices of previous presidents.
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