BP Press Blackout?

The environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has for a month now dominated news headlines everywhere, but getting accurate information about what’s really happening down there has become a real challenge. Disturbing reports have recently surfaced of journalists being turned away from oil spill-affected areas by British Petroleum flacks and government officials. Mother Jones magazine this week published a story showing a reporter getting the complete run-around by BP reps. Even photographers were getting yelled at by BP’s CEO. It wasn’t until a member of Congress publicly berated BP for releasing only partial footage of the oil volcano, that the company finally relented and made available live streaming video of the oil well. You can access the video here. What’s frustrating is that mainstream news outlets continue to rely heavily on information provided by BP and government officials, and that there aren’t greater demands for more access to spill sites. Photos of oil-covered wildlife – something that tends to galvanize public opinion against the industry – are still few. And not much attention has been paid to the 11 rig workers who lost their lives in the explosion that caused the spill.

BP officials insist that they are keeping the spill areas restricted for safety reasons, but if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. It’s in the company’s interest to keep people in the dark as much as possible as to how much they royally screwed up. The public has a right to see to what extent this irresponsible company, by its incompetency and recklessness, destroyed one of America’s most precious resources. In the meantime, intrepid Gulf environmentalists, independent news outlets like Mother Jones and DemocracyNow!, and blogs like Firedoglake continue to gather as much information as they can and get the word out. Huffington Post and BradBlog’s Green News Report contain headline roundups on the disaster. And environmental groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation, are also reporting on the spill. One interesting blog is BP Slick, a site hosted by area environmentalists that contains eyewitness accounts and videos of aerial footage, such as the one below from Hurricane Creekkeeper: