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November 20, 2013

Despite NYT Admission, Problem Photo Remains

Two days after a senior editor at The New York Times acknowledged to CAMERA the "poor" choice to prominently feature, in print and online, an emotive, sympathetic photograph of a Palestinian murderer's mother, and nearly 24 hours after the paper's public editor Margaret Sullivan came to the same conclusion ("Photo of Palestinian Mother was the Wrong Choice"), the offending photograph still appears (as of the publication of this post) prominently, untouched, on the newspaper's site.

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Sullivan wrote yesterday:

I spoke on Monday afternoon to two senior editors at The Times. Both agreed that the photo was a regrettable choice. The dominant image with an article should reflect the overall point of the article and the reason for its newsworthiness.

“This did not represent the essence of the story, which was clearly the moment of the Israeli soldier being stabbed,” said Michele McNally, the assistant managing editor in charge of photography. She said a less-senior picture editor chose the photograph, along with one representing what she considered the other side of the story, which showed an Israeli police officer at the crime scene. . . .

It was only later in the news cycle that photographs of the soldier’s funeral — which would have been an appropriate choice for a dominant image — became available, she said. (A photograph of the victim would also have been appropriate, [McNally] said.) . . .

The selection of the Palestinian mother’s image with the article was an effort to achieve balance, but such an effort was not appropriate in this case, Ms. McNally said. In the print editions of the newspaper, the two photographs were published on an inside page with the Palestinian photograph above the other. On the website and in other digital presentations, the Palestinian photograph was by far the more dominant image and remains so. . .

The prominent use of this photograph was a case of getting it wrong. (Emphasis added.)

The foreign editor and the assistant managing editor in charge of photography agree with the public editor that the photograph selection was wrong. So why is it still featured prominently on the Web site? Why hasn't the photograph been swapped with one of Eden Atias' grieving family members, now that they are available?

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The mother and the family of 19-year-old Israeli soldier Eden Atias grieve next to his grave during funeral at the military cemetery of the northern Israeli town of Nazareth Illit on November 13 2013. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

After replacing the photograph murderer's mother with the photograph of the victim's grieving mother, The New York Times should note the change and link to Sullivan's column addressing the problem.

Beyond the photo gaffe, The Times has serious, ongoing systemic problems in its Israel coverage it must address and fix.

(Hat tip: Gavin Gross)

Posted by TS at November 20, 2013 06:49 AM

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