The complainant, Mike Fegelman, the Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada, made two requests for reviews. One concerned a headline dealing with the sentencing of an Israeli soldier and the other questioned the use of an old photograph for a news report. He was concerned that the story behind the photo made it inappropriate, and he questioned why such an old photo would have been chosen. Both the headline and the photo were appropriate, and there was no violation of policy.
As you requested reviews at the same time regarding two different news stories published on cbcnews.ca, I will deal with both of them in this review. You have filed these complaints in your capacity as Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada.
The first one was a complaint about the headline in a story noting that an Israeli court upheld the sentence of a soldier convicted of shooting a Palestinian assailant who lay injured on the ground: “Israeli court upholds 18-month sentence for soldier’s shooting of Palestinian.” You said the headline should have referred to the Palestinian as an “attacker”, as is noted in the first paragraph of the story. You pointed out that in other CBC reports the word “assailant” was used in the headlines, and that CBC should be consistent and “strive for accuracy.” You asked that the headline be amended.
Your second concern was the use of an old photograph used to illustrate a story published in September 2017. It accompanied a report entitled “Hamas says it accepts Palestinian president’s reconciliation demands.” The photo, depicting people flying Palestinian and Hamas flags, was actually taken in 2005 at a funeral for bombing victims. They were killed when a pick-up truck carrying rockets and explosives detonated, and, according to reports at the time, killed over a dozen people. You questioned the use of a 12-year old photo to illustrate a current story. The caption on the story described it as one taken at the funeral of Palestinian bomb victims without mentioning the circumstances in which they were killed. You noted that at the time the photo was released the original information came with the photo from Getty images:
Of importance, the original Getty Images caption states the following: “JABALYA REFUGEE CAMP – GAZA STRIP 24: Mourners wave Palestinian and Hamas flags while they wait the funeral of 15 Palestinian bomb victims in the Al-shuhada cemetery, September 24, 2005 in Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza Strip. Thousands reportedly attended the funeral held for the 15 Palestinian victims killed September 23 in a car explosion during a Hamas military rally. Both Hamas and Israel are accusing each other of causing the explosion. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)”
I know that photos and captions sometimes are stories unto themselves, but the reality is that these 15 Palestinians died because Hamas’ homemade rockets/ammunition prematurely exploded, so said Israel and the Palestinian Interior Ministry at the time.
You said using the image in this context was “outdated and inappropriate.”