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White House vows more access for photographers

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, 7:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The White House said on Thursday that President Obama wants to address growing media protests about limited access to his events, including restricted coverage of his trip to South Africa with former President George W. Bush.

In recent weeks, dozens of leading news organizations have protested restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of Obama performing official duties while the White House releases pictures taken by the president's staff.

The objections dominated the White House briefing, after this week's release of government photos from Obama's trip to South Africa for former President Nelson Mandela's memorial service. The package included pictures of Obama and Bush traveling on Air Force One along with their wives and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, when news photographers on board were not allowed to take pictures of the historic flight.

While Obama had promised to lead the most transparent administration in history, press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged there have been times when the White House could have provided more access.

“From the president on down — and I mean that — there is absolute agreement that there is no substitute for a free and independent press reporting on a presidency, the White House, on Congress, on the government,” Carney said. “It's essential, essential. And that includes photography. And we will continue to work with photographers to address their concerns. So let me be clear — that is the view from the very top.”

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