Behind the coverage of the Gulf oil spill
Many journalists covering the oil spill off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana are finding it difficult to cover the U.S.’s biggest oil spill disaster because of restrictions set by the British-owned company, BP. As during Hurricane Katrina, when reporters were asked by FEMA not to show dead bodies being removed, BP and government agencies are limiting journalists’ access to the worst damage.
Media organizations such as the Associated Press and CBS have reported experiencing limited access to public areas off the Gulf coast of Louisiana where there are crude-covered beaches and wildlife saturated with oil.
The Washington Post reported that a staff photographer for the Times-Picayune was allowed very limited access, barely getting shots of workers taking samples from a beach in Port Fourchon, La. The reporter was unable to book a flight over Grand Isle because BP, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Coast Guard were denying access to planes flying reporters
CBS reported that a Coast Guard crew threatened to arrest its reporters if they did not leave a restricted area. “This is BP’s rules. Not ours,” they were told.
Mother Jones reporter, Mac McClelland, was told by the sheriff’s department, “This is BP’s oil” and tried for two days to get access to Elmer’s Island, an area that was hit hard by the oil spill. She was directed by the sheriff’s department to call BP.
BP is even controlling press calls on behalf of government agencies.
Need to Know producers contacted the Deepwater Horizon Response, a unified command center by BP, the Coast Guard, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Mary, who declined to offer her last name, told us she would get back in touch with us regarding our request for an interview with an official. Need to Know is still waiting for the call back from Mary.