(ATHENS, GA.,) The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) calls 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.
We also call on news media organizations to decline to publish handout photographs from the government or others when full and meaningful visual access is denied.
When important issues face a nation, and the truth must be ascertained, images – taken by journalists who adhere to strict codes of ethics – truly matter. The only photographs the nation has seen from inside those facilities have come from the government.
This is unacceptable. We believe that access to those facilities by journalists is both appropriate and warranted. The nation should not be relegated to relying solely on governmental depictions when it comes to such matters of public concern.
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. As our Code of Ethics states, photojournalists and those who manage visuals in news organizations should “resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities,” “strive to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public,” and “defend the right of access for all journalists.”
Through its advocacy efforts, NPPA has a long history supporting visual journalists, and the First Amendment exercised for the public good. In 2010, we pressed the administration for access to the scene of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2013, NPPA helped lead a media coalition protesting limits placed on news photographers covering Obama at the White House.
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.
To that end, we commend those news organizations which have already stated that they will not publish government handout photos. We implore journalists and elected officials to join us in a call for full, unfettered and meaningful access to cover the immigration and asylum processes including those detention facilities as well as other governmental functions to which the public is entitled to be fully informed.