Getty Images was complicit on this
As it becomes more crucial than ever that the news media take every step to safeguard their reputation and independence, the Getty Images photo agency has failed the industry on both fronts.
Disturbing revelations that the outlet struck a deal with first lady Melania Trump earning her at least thousands of dollars in 2017 for use of images of her family in positive stories only has compromised the integrity of the company while turning news outlets into funding streams for the White House. The scoop was broken by NBC News, which unknowingly took part in the payouts by using certain of the images that it has now removed from its coverage.
While Getty touts its editorial policy as one that adheres “to a common set of professional journalistic principles that guide our staff, our processes and our operations,” offering financial compensation to story subjects is one of the greatest violations of ethical standards within the profession. Even more jarring is Getty’s declaration that its policy is one of “fair and unbiased coverage,” principles clearly not at play given its stipulation in the deal that the images be used in favorable coverage of the first lady.
The bottom line is this: Under the Trump administration, the press is already blasted by a wave of criticism, including scathing attacks from the public and a president who would like to rip credentials from those reporting negative, or in his words, “fake” stories about him. So make no mistake, Getty is complicit in that problem.
While payouts to celebrities for use of their image is common, that is a rarity for anyone connected to the White House, and it raises a serious conflict of interest if Getty considers itself part of the journalism industry.
If Getty wants to rectify the issue, it must come clean on all details of the agreement and the money involved. So far, the public only knows that Melania Trump made anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million from the images, while Getty and the White House refuse to divulge the particulars.
In the meantime, the press should avoid using photos with strings attached and opt for alternative sources instead, including staff photographers, freelancers or other image suppliers.
Amy Russo is a writer for Mediaite, covering media and politics. You can follow her on Twitter: @amymrusso.
What our readers are saying
How dare Trump supporters ever think that going along with a celebrity host was ever going to be acceptable?
— Mary Page
Maybe this time her jacket will say: “I REALLY don’t care. At all. About anyone or anything.”
— Michael Anthony Shea
Melania still doesn’t care about liberal opinions. She doesn’t need to wear the jacket again.
— Dennis Shipman
What others are saying
This story below is misleading and wrong as to me…I don’t know about other news outlets,but I never agreed to do a ‘positive’ story-I did an honest story and it was positive because she is a decent person and has led decent life to report https://t.co/it4ulh9cPw
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) July 3, 2018