Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BP limited media coverage?

Did BP limit media access in covering the Gulf Coast oil spill?

Some bloggers claim BP did. 

The media's coverage was important in bringing government pressure on  BP.  Images of leaking oil and dead wildlife created public interest and outrage.  The result, writes the bloggers, was BP limited media access to the oil spill. BP also developed a strong public relations campaign using YouTube and other social media to directly reach the public.

CBS reported that one of its reporters was threatened with arrest at the site of the spill and was prevented from fully photographing and covering the story. CNN reported that the Coast Guard was enforcing a 65-foot "safety zone" restricting observers from getting near cleanup efforts.  Charter pilots carrying the media were told to not fly below 3000 feet over the spill.  Oil spill cleanup workers were threatened with termination for talking to reporters. The New York Daily News reported that one of their reporters was told BP did not want images of dead animals circulating. The same 10 - 15 images of oiled animals were used again and again because photographers apparently were restricted from taking pictures.

So what was the result of media coverage?

A national commission, formed by President Obama, is recommending the need  for safety and environmental regulation of the US offshore oil industry to further develop resources in deep water and the Arctic.  Media coverage most certainly put pressure on government to form the commission.  However, media coverage has waned and it is unlikely that any public policy will result. 

Sources: Zawn Villines. (2010, July 12). Reports of BP limiting media coverage of Gulf Coast oil spill. Associated Content by Yahoo. Retrieved from

(2010, Aug. 25). BP Oil Spill Media Coverage Restricted - 65-foot "Safety Zone." Articlesbase. Retrieved from