Home Media Action Alerts2009 Success: Toronto Sun Issues Photo Gaffe Clarification After HRC Complaint (September 24, 2009)

Success: Toronto Sun Issues Photo Gaffe Clarification After HRC Complaint (September 24, 2009)

by Mike Fegelman

Success: Toronto Sun Issues Photo Gaffe Clarification After HRC Complaint

September 24, 2009

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

Readers of the Toronto Sun might have noticed something a bit askew in the September 21 edition of the paper.

An Associated Press report about U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to put the Mideast peace process back on track, featured a curious Reuters photograph appended to the article which stated only the following: “The brother of Mahmoud Naser, shot by Israeli troops yesterday, mourns during funeral in northern Gaza Strip.”

The article by AP reporter Amy Teibel, didn’t refer to this incident in her report, nor did the headline “Obama takes risk in Mideast,” nor the photo caption. Why would Israeli troops have shot and killed what we’re only left to conclude is an innocent man? The problem with the Sun’s reporting on this incident is that it failed to provide necessary context about the circumstances under which this individual was killed.

In fact, as the Toronto Sun’s sister newspaper, the Edmonton Sun reported a day earlier, along with this Reuters report featured in the Vancouver Sun:


“A Palestinian Health Ministry official says Israeli forces have killed two Palestinian militants and wounded three in an incident along the Gaza border.

The Israeli military said a border patrol fired at a group of Palestinians seen planting a bomb at the Gaza border fence Sunday.

The militant Islamic Hamas said one of its fighters was among the dead, identifying him as Abed Hafiz al-Silawi, 21.

While the er left wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine identified the other as 21-year-old Mahmoud Ahmed Naser in a separate statement.

These reports indicated the following important information which was omitted in the Toronto Sun’s coverage:

  1. Contrary to the Sun’s presentation of this incident, Mahmoud Naser is not an innocent victim. He was a member of a terrorist group, the PFLP, which was attempting to carry out a lethal terror attack.
  2. Israeli soldiers acted in self defense and shot mortars and tank fire “at two men after they were spotted close to the border fence in the north of the enclave.”
  3. The joint Hamas/PFLP operation was trying to plant a bomb at the Gaza border fence.

Unfortunately, as a result of these serious omissions, Israel’s security concerns were completely ignored. Instead, readers were lead to believe that Mahmoud Naser was an innocent civilian casualty killed by a bellicose Israeli army and not a ruthless terrorist who was killed while trying to plant a bomb.

While we appreciate the need for concise photo captions and for wire stories to be edited down, notwithstanding, accuracy should never be sacrificed for brevity. With this in mind, we contacted senior editors at the Toronto Sun asking that the newspaper issue a clarification to properly set the record straight on this incident. We are happy to report that in yesterday’s edition of the Sun, the newspaper commendably featured this clarification in an attempt to remedy their error:


In today’s editions of the Calgary Herald and the Globe and Mail, HonestReporting Canada’s executive director confronts misinformation propelled by anti-Israel proponents that was published in previous editions in the letters section of these publications. See how HRC successfully added to the marketplace of ideas by looking at the before and after examples referenced below.


HonestReporting’s successful campaign to get Facebook to recognize the status of Israeli residents of the Golan Heights continues to make waves. Having caused some upset with the Syrians, the story was featured in a variety of media outlets including the LA Times, Daily Telegraph, Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet and Daily Beast.

The story has also been covered by CNN’s Connecting the World program, including an appearance by HonestReporting’s Social Media Editor Alex Margolin. Click below to view the story on CNN and remember to join HonestReporting’s Facebook fan page.

HonestReporting. ca




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