The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) joined with the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) in a statement protesting the manipulation of an official photograph made available for distribution by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office.
The issue of the use of government hand out photos is something that press groups have been concerned with for sometime. The acknowledgment by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office that four Members of the House who arrived too late to be photographed in a group shot were “later photo-shopped in” stands as exhibit A in the dangers of using these photos. Those dangers are further exacerbated at a time when news organizations are cutting staff and relying more on unvetted user generated content while the government and other organizations are seeking to exercise more control over access and their images.
A further review of the photo shows that not only were the four missing Congresswomen added but that the image was also manipulated to show other Congresswomen who were blocked in the original photo as well as redoing the hair of another. Rather than being a true and “accurate historical record” as the House Minority Leader stated in her defense of the use of the photo, the hand-out represents an example of the dangers in using a manipulated official photograph, thus undermining the public’s trust in visual images.
The White House News Photographers Association is a 92-year-old not for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the efforts of Washington’s professional photojournalists. The National Press Photographers Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of photojournalism in its creation, editing and distribution. NPPA’s almost 7,000 members include television and still photographers, editors, students and representatives of businesses that serve the photojournalism industry. Since its founding in 1946, the NPPA has vigorously promoted the constitutional rights of journalists as well as freedom of the press in all its forms, especially as it relates to photojournalism.