By: Joel Davis

Morse Resigned Over White House Photo Work

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Times didn’t
make an endorsement for president, and it doesn’t endorse a
photographer moonlighting for the White House.

Times general-assignment photographer Paul Morse took
President Bush’s official portrait the day after the
inauguration. This caused a stir over Times staffers’
performing outside work and led to Morse’s resignation.

Morse, who reportedly got permission to take the portrait through
a Times deputy of photography, took pictures of Bush and
Bush’s dog as a favor to official White House photographer Eric
Draper, formerly of the Associated Press.

However, when Morse called in later to see whether it was also
all right to take a portrait of Vice President Dick Cheney,
L.A. Times Photography Director Larry Armstrong put the
brakes on, informing Morse he could not work for both the paper
and the White House. Morse subsequently resigned and took a job
at the White House.

L.A. Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet told The New
York Times that the incident is “a pretty ridiculous conflict
of interest,” and he reportedly now requires all staff free-lance
activity to be reported.

L.A. Times spokesman David Garcia said the paper has an
in-house ethics policy-review committee formed several months ago
that looks into such matters and that they are reviewed on a
case-by-case basis.

“Section editor reviews are the first hurdle free-lance
assignments need to pass. And, as appropriate, they are reviewed
in consultation with executive-level editors,” Garcia told

Joel Davis ( is West Coast editor for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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