The above photos were among those distributed in last week’s publicity release by the White House, which broke tradition by not allowing access to the media on Obama’s first day in office.
Today’s topic relates to my earlier post describing the new administration’s plans to use the Internet to bypass the media in mobilizing public support for President Obama’s programs.
The media, however, has ways of pushing back. A few days ago, the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence-France-Presse refused to distribute White House provided photos of Obama’s first day in the Oval Office. The agencies were protesting the Administration’s break with long-time tradition in its refusal to allow news photographers access on that important occasion.
Those impressive photos of Obama’s first day in the Oval Office, prominently displayed by the Huffington Post, were actually “visual publicity releases.” (In today’s search I could find only the two shown above.)
Ari Melber picks up the story today in Obama, the Press and Us: Transparency is Not Enough:
It is great, of course, for the White House to release photos or documents or any other material. Obama's openness is a welcome change from his predecessor, who went all the way to the Supreme Court to hide the RSVP list for a single policy meeting. And transparency is intrinsically good, since in a democracy, very little government activity is legitimately secret.
Transparency reform and government information, however, are no substitutes for journalistic access and original reporting. “In fact, the administration's new openness might even function as little more than another unfiltered route to disseminate its view. If the information is offered to supplant independent reporting -- as in the photo disputes -- and only flows in one direction, then the government simply amplifies its already sizable megaphone. A louder government with less journalism does not enrich our democratic process.
It is odd, though, to now hear the media complaining about the way the Obama Administration is treating it. Not much of a reward for swooning at the One’s feet since he first announced his candidacy for the presidential office.