With the Gulf oil spill dominating the news cycle, journalists are flocking to the region. But getting down toLouisiana is the easy part. Once there, journalists are finding that BP — aided by local and federal officials — is making it difficult to cover the environmental disaster.
Newsweek’s Matthew Philips spoke with a number of journalists in the region. Photographers tell him that officials are “blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible,” such as “oil-covered beaches, staging areas for cleanup efforts, and even flyovers.”
Of course, anyone flipping on the cable networks or perusing online news sites has probably seen images from the spill. But Philips says many images “are coming from BP and government sources.”
Philips’ finding is not surprising given the anecdotal evidence of journalists who say they’ve been prevented from doing their work. Just in the last week, BP contractors stopped a CBS crew from filming and threatened arrests; CEO Tony Hayward was caught on tape yelling “Get outta there!” at a photographer snapping pictures; and Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland said her efforts to reach Elmer’s Island on the tip of Louisiana were thwarted after she was stopped more than once by Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies.
With such access being cut off, Philips writes that journalist trying to cover “the worst environmental disaster in the history” of U.S. waters must do so “against the will of BP.”