Special Report: Globe and Mail Must Apologize (March 6 2008)

March 6, 2008


Special Report: Globe and Mail Must Apologize

March 6, 2008

By: Mike Fegelman

Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:

Globe and Mail readers opened up their morning newspaper yesterday in utter shock and dismay.

A large photo (5 columns inches in length, above the fold, and on page A15) showed an Israeli soldier apparently aiming his weapon in the direction of a Palestinian toddler in a stroller.

It would be wholly unthinkable for an Israeli soldier to point a weapon directly at a baby, even more so in the immediate vicinity of a press photographer. Indeed, a closer examination of this photo reveals how clever positioning on the part of the photographer captures a particular angle and context. Thus, the soldier, his weapon and the baby are the primary focus while we do not see who is pushing the stroller or any of the surroundings in the area that the IDF is patrolling. The soldier is not even pointing his weapon at the baby. The photo is deliberately manipulative and selective in what it shows and what it does not show.

There was no relation between the photo and the story that appeared alongside it, about U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice’s shuttle diplomacy to the Mideast to restore peace talks. The caption of the photo, a mere 18 words, read:

  • “Israeli soldiers pass a baby in a stroller as they patrol the West Bank town of Hebron yesterday. Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP”

While the Globe is free to print any photo of its choice, it must provide enough information for readers to understand them in context. As the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics states, photos should not “oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.” (For example, most readers do not know that, while Palestinian toddlers may not appear to pose any threat to soldiers, Palestinian terrorists have hidden bombs, weapons, grenades and explosives in the very carriages that transport these toddlers.)

This emotionally charged and carefully crafted photo, presented brutal Israeli soldiers with guns exerting unfair authority over innocent Palestinians, all without providing any context for the cynical manipulation of children by Palestinian terrorists.

Yet, with issues of caption context aside, this photo should not have been selected by trained Globe and Mail photo editors altogether, as it was not fit for publication.

Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident for the Globe and Mail.

Putting Checkpoints In Context:

On November 24, 2005 the Globe published a large photo, showing an Israeli soldier apparently aiming his weapon at Palestinian schoolgirls.

Again there was no relation between the photo and the er story that appeared beneath it, about a hang-glider who drifted from Israel into Lebanon. The caption on the photo read:

  • “Palestinian schoolgirls step back as they are prevented from approaching a checkpoint on their way to school in the Old City of Hebron yesterday. Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP

Amazingly, the same Associated Press photographer (Nasser Shiyoukhi) took a very similar image from the same local, Hebron in the West Bank, depicting Israeli soldiers with guns aiming at innocent Palestinian children.

These images appear to be a calculated effort by this AP photographer to show Israel and its army in an unfavourable light.

At the time, HonestReporting Canada contacted senior editors at the Globe and Mail who responded that, while the newspaper will continue to run stand-alone photographs, this particular photo lacked sufficient context and explanation. The Globe agreed that the photo required a lengthier caption or a separate story in order to adequately explain the incident. The editor also stated that the Globe and Mail will review its internal procedures on the use of such photographs in the future.

Unfortunately, the procedures and protocols implemented in 2005, were apparently not observed in the final editing stages of producing yesterday’s edition of the Globe and Mail.

How You Can Make a Difference

As the Globe has published a prejudicial photograph, of which once again failed to provide necessary photographic context, it’s incumbent on the newspaper to issue a formal apology to account for their mistakes and to implement new stricter procedures for appending photographs alongside news content.

Ask the Globe and Mail to issue a formal apology in the next edition of the newspaper and to implement stricter quality control protocols to ensure photos like these do not surface in the paper ever again. To contact the Globe and Mail’s Editor-In-Chief Edward Greenspon, send an email to: egreenspon@globeandmail.com and refer to Nasser Shiyoukhi’s March 5 photograph on page A15.

Pointers for contacting the Globe: State your position clearly in your own words, remain rational and polite, and contact us at action@honestreporting.ca to tell us you took action. To be considered for publication, letters should include sender’s name and contact information for verification purposes.


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