White House draws ire for barring outside photographers from Dalai Lama meeting


posted Monday, February 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM EST


The White House has yet again drawn a critical reaction from press outlets due to the way it has treated outside photographers. This time, a planned meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama was held with only the White House's official photographer Pete Souza allowed to record the event—other accredited photojournalists were barred from entry.

Soon after the meeting, the White House released an image from the meeting over social media and Flickr, as well as to news outlets, making that one snap the only image of the pair's interaction. The 10AM meeting was marked "closed press", preventing outside news outlets from attending. The White House News Photographers Association released a statement on the event criticizing the administration for the move, saying:

A government photographer is no substitute for an independent, experienced photojournalist. We are disappointed the White House has reverted to their old strategy of announcing a closed press event and then later releasing their own photo. The WHNPA also urges news organizations to refrain from publishing and circulating this handout photo, which is a visual press release of a news worthy event.

The NPPA's general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher expressed a similar view, saying:

"NPPA is deeply disappointed that – despite promises by the White House to work with news organizations to improve access to newsworthy events involving the President – they barred independent photo coverage of today's meeting with the Dalai Lama, only to issue their own photograph of the event a short time later."

The White House has had a troubled relationship with photographers, repeatedly making moves like this before—which came to a head late last year, with the White House promising better access. Reuters and the Associated Press have refused to send the Souza image to their clients in news rooms the world over.

The President's meeting with the Dalai Lama has also been contentious for other reasons, drawing criticism from China.

(via NPPA)

The Official White House Photo of the meeting by Pete Souza