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BP Blocking Media Access to Oil Disaster Sites
News photographers are saying that their efforts to document the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials working with BP. TV crews, news reporters and photographers on the ground in Louisiana are reporting that BP and Coast Guard officials are denying members of the media flights over the oil disaster area, and blocking their access to oil-covered beaches and staging areas for cleanup. Mother Jones published a reporter's first-hand account of his repeated attempts to get access to oil-soaked beaches and cleanup operations. The most recent report of the press being denied access to affected areas came from a company called Southern Seaplane, Inc. The company was scheduled to take a photojournalist from the New Orleans Times-Picayune for a flyover on May 25, but was denied permission after BP officials found out a member of the press would be on board. In instances when access is granted, it is conducted under tight oversight by BP and Coast Guard officials. BP officials escort reporters and photographers on BP-contracted boats and aircraft, so the company decides what the media sees and when they see it.