The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) in the USA has highlighted the restrictions being placed on visual journalists who are reporting on the ongoing dispute over child detention.The NPPA is calling on ‘all politicians who visit migrant child detention facilities to insist on being accompanied by visual journalists and to insist that Immigration and Customs Enforcement permits unfettered access to those facilities for all journalists.’
They are also calling on news media organisations to refuse to publish any handout photographs supplied by the government or others while this visual access is being denied.
The New York Times has said it will not publish photos supplied by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Its editor, Dean Basquet, said, ‘It would hurt any future case for access. And given the sensitivity of this story, I don’t think we can assure readers that we are seeing a full picture when the government makes the choice of what we see and show. Readers want to know what these places look like, from the view of journalists who are witnesses.’
One photo that was given to media by the CBP did indeed feature prominently in major stories, but media organisations such as CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press, USA Today and others made sure to give context on where it came from.
The Washington Post also published the photo but its editor, Marty Baron, said that the newspaper “vigorously objects to the exclusion of news photographers from these facilities, which is detrimental to public understanding of the Trump administration’s separation policy. We are publishing some photographs provided by authorities because they are, for the time being, the only images available. We evaluate these situations case by case. Use of such photos is sharply limited, and we would never permit their use for an indefinite period.’
The NPPA has stated firmly that ‘on all issues, especially an important issue such as this, the public has a right to and a need for independent, verified visual journalism – not government-controlled images.‘
‘When anyone prevents us from serving the public through our images, we speak out. While we understand that images drive pageviews, that should not justify the use of images made available by the government while barring access to the press.’