AAN was one of 38 organizations and companies that sent a letter to the White House protesting the increasing lack of access to public events and activities which, perhaps coincidentally, has seen the White House circulating photos and videos of these same events taken by their own photographer.
While we understand that AAN members donâ€™t regularly cover the White House, we felt that it was important to sign this letter because of the strong statement it makes regarding the importance of reporter, photographer and videographer access to government. We also see this combination of restricting access plus governmental pressure to use their photos and videos filtering down to state and local governments as well. It simply shouldnâ€™t happen at any level of government.
However, we also want you to know that you need to take your own, individual, stands as well. As the American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors explained to their members: â€œwe, the press, have been enablersâ€. We echo their call and ask AAN members to simply refrain from using the governmentâ€™s photos which have been called â€œvisual press releasesâ€ by some and even likened to â€œpropagandaâ€ by others. The longer we willingly accept their photos and videos in lieu of access, the more frequently we wonâ€™t have access.
Please do not hesitate to contact AAN Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at goldberg[at]fhhlaw.com or 703-812-0462 if you have any questions about this letter or similar situations you may encounter at the state or local level.