We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further.
Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. 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.
Opening paragraphs of a joint letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney from 30+ news organizations. (PDF)
Background: During a press briefing last week, the Washington press corp continued its criticism of the Obama administration and its perceived lack of access to the president.
Meantime, Santiago Lyon, vice president and director of photography at The Associated Press, took to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times to call out the White House’s “draconian restrictions on photojournalists’ access to the president.”
This issue has been around for while. Last Febrruary, Politico ran a piece about a growing rift between the Obama administration and the Washington press corp.
As I wrote at the time, though, the access issue surrounds most every administration:
Go back to Timothy Crouse’s 1972 book, “Boys on the Bus,” about that year’s presidential campaign and reporters are complaining about “media events” and message control.
Or fast forward to the Reagan years and press complaints about Reagan’s mastery of political television and the importance of image over substance and you have, largely, the same phenomenon. It’s just different technology these days.
Yes, access is important. So too is recognizing and reporting on the political theater that surrounds a photo op. — Michael
In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. And so the default position for reporting is to say, “A plague on both their houses.” On almost every issue, it’s, “Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree” — as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?
President Obama “maintained the top spot” among world leaders on Twitter per number of followers, having added 15 million followers during an election year. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in second place, added two million followers. Turkish President Abdullah Gül also added two millon followers and sits at third.
Alex Fitzpatrick, Mashable. You Can Tweet at 75% of the World’s Leaders.
See the above link for a detailed account of world leaders on Twitter. Obama, whose post-election victory photo became the most retweeted post in history, leads by number of followers.
But that isn’t necessarily surprising. What is surprising is the number of non-democratic, “instable” nations that have a leader online. While they appear near the bottom by popularity, there are many Central Asian and African governments that, until recently, have largely viewed social media as a threat.
Also interesting: who isn’t on Twitter. For one, there’s China’s Xi Jinping, who doesn’t want his citizens on the site, or Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And, sorry to say, the Dragon King of Bhutan is nowhere to be found.