Posts Tagged 'press restrictions'

BP’s Photo Clampdown

Rescued sea turtle. Photo by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

It’s official: The BP oil spill is now bigger than that other catastrophic disaster, 1989’s Exxon Valdez, and the worst in US history. And as you might expect in the nefarious, super-connected, high stakes world of Big Oil, there are a lot of people who don’t want the full calamity of that known and reported on.

So local and federal officials, under orders from BP no doubt, are trying to restrict where photojournalists can go. We posted on this earlier in the week, when a CBS News crew encountered some Coast Guard officers and BP contractors who threatened them with arrest if they didn’t leave the oil-covered shoreline.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a one-time occurence. A Mother Jones’ reporter wrote about his own account of coming up against local officials while trying to survey the scene at Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge (he was told BP’s in charge because “it’s BP’s oil”).  And in a Newsweek piece that runs down the restrictions on press coverage,  they mention a Times-Picayune photojournalist whose flyover of the affected areas was canceled once BP officials got wind of it.

“It’s a running joke among the journalists covering the story that the words ‘Coast Guard’ affixed to any vehicle, vessel, or plane should be prefixed with ‘BP,’ ” says Charlie Varley, a Louisiana-based photographer. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”

Unfortunately BP’s efforts are futile. There is no damage control in a situation that’s already bad beyond belief. They would do more to burnish their image by appearing to be willing and accommodating with every effort that’s being made to cover and control the spill.

Article from Newsweek

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