White House photographs should be taken by impartial ‘visual journalists’

This is another reminder that if you let someone take a selfie with you, you should expect to see it online.

Yesterday, on May 10, President Donald Trump met in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister and allowed the Russian news agency TASS to photograph the event while denying access to American press. Unnamed sources within the White House later said they felt “tricked” and that they did not believe TASS would release the photographs, according to CNN.

Press coverage is, and should be, daily at the White House, and that coverage ought to include newsgathering photographers committed to bringing accurate, impartial imagery to the public. Unfortunately, the last administration handed out visual press releases instead of relying on newsgathering photographers.
Our friends at the White House News Photographers Association have a mission to take images that are impartial and accurate.

From their mission statement:

[…] We strongly believe in the public’s natural and legal right to freedom in searching for the truth and the right to be accurately and completely informed about the world in which we live.

Our Vision

We believe that there is a direct linkage between the survival of a democratic society and an accurate and free press. Members of the WHNPA maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in serving the public interest, which includes truth, accuracy and fairness. Our images strive to be objective and independent.

In West Virginia, a local reporter was arrested simply for asking questions outside of a news conference of an elected official, who later noted by way of explanation that the reporter was not in a news conference. Avoiding reporters, even assertive ones, is not the way to promote a free press.

That arrest was wrong and underscores the need for the White House to set a good example for elected leaders across the country and heads of state around the globe by allowing the public to see what the government is doing in its name.