Portions of this column were originally written for the November 2012 edition of News Photographer Magazine.
Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.
The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.
November 2012, Volume 115
By Mark Loundy
"Nothing in this section shall prevent a duly authorized
representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network from entering the areas closed pursuant to this section."
It's difficult to disprove a myth if it seems to actually exist in real life. That's the problem with the so-called "press passes" and the companies that exploit the ignorance of inexperienced photographers by selling them.
Disbelieving the reality of press passes is a challenge when the mass media is full of images of journalists wearing event credentials. Hollywood perpetuates the myth by showing reporters and photographers entering areas otherwise closed to the public by flashing an official-looking card.
Some government agencies, such as police and fire departments and the Secret Service contribute to the myth by issuing press IDs and extending special privileges to their wearers.
The California law that permits emergency personnel to close disaster areas to the public has a news media exemption, but there is no definition of news media identification beyond the phrase, "duly authorized." No credentials are mentioned.
Individual news organizations issue their employees wearable IDs, sometimes emblazoned with the word "PRESS" or "MEDIA."
But there is no such thing as a press pass as the general public commonly perceives it. Vultures like the International Freelance Photographer Organization (IFPO) feast upon pro photo hopefuls by supporting the myth of the press pass and charging $81 for each of its "Lifetime Memberships." Of course the memberships are for a lifetime. Once somebody has figured out that they've paid good money for something that they could have printed themselves and laminated at Staples, they've learned their lesson and won't be coming back to re-up.
You can even get a custom title for the card they sell you such as "Nature Photographer." Now to whom would you show that? I hear that Yogi Bear is pretty gullible.
IFPO's latest scheme is called "US Press Corps." It's $39 for three years. What happens after that? How can you get thrown out of something that exists only for the purpose of selling laminated cards?
Unfortunately, there is an endless supply of people yearning for the (also mythical) glorious life of a professional photographer. So companies like the IFPO will never lack for customers.
The NPPA also started selling press IDs a few years ago. While I think that it is inappropriate for the NPPA to offer them, for the reasons that I put forth above, there is no comparison between the two organizations. The NPPA's numerous educational and advocacy efforts bear no comparison to the IFPO's raison d'Ítre of selling misleading press IDs.
Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.Leftovers
The new APA/EP chapter will operate as an independent non-profit under the organizational umbrella of the national group.
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