Giving Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

valign=”top” width=200 height=159 style=”margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px”>

In Sunday’s Washington Post, and I’m sure many other papers across the country, a photograph of President Bush making his weekly radio address ran. It was credited to the Associated Press.

Others, no doubt, credited Reuters, AFP and Getty. Yet, none of these media outlets were actually there to cover the president making his remarks. They were not invited, and requests to cover this weekly event are routinely denied.

So, what gives?

The truth is, White House photographer Eric Draper makes the photos and provides them as a “hand out” to all outlets. Despite this fact, the credit on Sunday ran as if the photograph were taken by an AP photographer. It was credited “Eric Draper — Associated Press,” creating the perception that the photograph was produced by an independent media outlet.

Examples abound on Google alone, where a mix of Eric’s pre-White House photojournalism is sprinkled throughout his work as an arm of the White House media team. Here are Eric Draper’s AP credits, here are his Reuters credits, and also his AFP credits.

Understand, this is by no means a criticism of Eric. He’s doing an excellent job and is a great photographer. Rather, this is an observation of how his work (and the work of photographers at other government institutions) is improperly credited by media outlets, creating a false impression with the public.

When the AP moves a photo from the White House (as exampled here), the caption, as is standard AP form, begins: “In this photograph released by the White House…” and ends “… (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper).”

However, newspapers often do not make the distinction that the AP and the other wire services do when they run the credit, and strip out the information that would reveal the true source of the image.

Were the credit to read, “Eric Draper/White House via…,” as shown in the examples here, it would be a proper identification, and I’d be fine with that.

But when news outlets take the shortcut of calling the White House photographer’s work their own — even accidentally — they effectively validate the government restrictions. By doing so, they make it that much harder for photojournalists to obtain the access necessary to a free press.

The fewer “closed press” events, and the more attention paid to proper credit to images moved, the better informed the public will be.

[tags]photojournalism, photography credits, John Harrington[/tags]

Leave a Reply