The media doesn’t like this, but for years, there was not much in the way of response.
Things are changing. More and more, I have seen media companies refusing to run “handout” photos when they are offered as a replacement for media access.
Recently, the media was kept out of a meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama. Response was strong.
The Associated Press declined to distribute the handout photo, instead offering the following Photo Advisory:
AP Photo Advisory: The AP will not be distributing an official White House photograph of today’s meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama. The AP declines to accept or use handout photos when we feel access would have been possible by the media, either as a group or through a pool photo arrangement.
The New York Times and the Washington Post also stated that they would not publish the hand-out photos.
The impact of a media blackout used to be more significant. But since the Obama White House has it’s own photo distribution system (via a Flikr Photostream) it doesn’t have to rely on the AP, or even newspapers, to get its images across.
There are several good sources for this story:
Associate Press release about the Dalai Lama and Obama meeting.
Washington Times article about the Dalai Lama handout photo.
Columbia Journalism Review article on the handouts trend.
White House News Photographers Association position on handout photos.