What's wrong with this picture? The PMO is sending out a steady stream of publicity photos in the hope they will be used in newspapers and blogs across the country. But photojournalists believe Harper's handlers are going too far in trying to control his image
Ottawa From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Nov. 06, 2009 4:52PM EST Last updated on Friday, Nov. 06, 2009 5:37PM EST
Minutes after Stephen Harper finished his now-famous rendition of With a Little Help from My Friends , the Prime Minister's Office e-mailed Canadian media an arresting close-up shot of what it described as the gala piano performance.
Only it wasn't.
The picture, which featured Mr. Harper framed by dazzling theatre lights, was actually snapped by a PMO photographer at a private rehearsal hours before the Oct. 3 evening concert.
The shot used by media outlets including The Globe and Mail's website is cited by photojournalists who cover Mr. Harper when they discuss what they see as recent PMO efforts to exert more influence over images of the Conservative Prime Minister.
Since the spring, the PMO has effectively set up its own picture service, e-mailing photos to Canadian media almost daily in an effort to find a market for publicity shots of Mr. Harper's activities. It's a service that ultimately competes with the work of photojournalists, but one, they argue, that should not be relied upon as a record of events.
The mislabelled Harper picture is evidence of that, photojournalists say.
That's why you rely on independent journalists to gather news, said Graeme Roy, The Canadian Press's director of news photography.
Contacted about the photo, the Prime Minister's Office acknowledged that it erred in distributing a rehearsal picture that was captioned as the gala performance and said it should have sent out a correction. We strive to make no errors on stuff that we put out. Unfortunately, sometimes, we're human and we do make a mistake, PMO spokesman Andrew MacDougall said.