The Washington Times - January 22, 2009, 11:27AM

It’s still TBD whether it really will be the most open and transparent White House in history, but the photographers who just got back from what’s called a pool photo say they are thrilled.



President Obama was huddling with former military generals and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and the pool was let into the room for a few minutes to capture him signing some executive orders on Guantanamo Bay.


The scribes from the pool were frantically calling editors with dictation when they came out, but everyone with a camera was smiling broadly.


“Endless!” Mary Calvert, a staff photographer for The Washington Times, exclaimed when she emerged.


“Usually we get seven seconds,” another photographer chimed in.


“He did three minutes and, like, a speech!” another one marveled.


“That sounded like it was chaos,” a journalist who wasn’t part of the pool told the photographers.


“Actually, it was great!” a shooter responded. “What a change!”

On a sour note, one of the wire scribblers didn’t make it into the room. The overhead PA system to announce gatherings isn’t working yet, causing some friction and frustration.


UPDATE, 11:35 a.m.: The PA system crackled and the word “Test” was heard blaring. The entire press room cheered. And Helen Thomas is here, preparing for Robert Gibbs’ maiden briefing.


UPDATE, 5 p.m.: The actual photographers may be happy, but no one is pleased that the Obama White House didn’t let any one besides a print pool into his swearing-in ceremony yesterday when he re-took the oath of office. There were some grumblings about this during Gibbs’ briefing, and several wire services are complaining:


NEW YORK (AP) — Three news agencies refused to distribute White House-provided photos of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, arguing that access should have been provided to news photographers.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse said the White House was breaking with long-standing tradition in not allowing news photographers to capture the president at work in the Oval Office on his first day.

“We are not distributing what are, in effect, visual press releases,” said Michael Oreskes, managing editor for U.S. news at the AP.



 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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