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November 19, 2013 3:13 pm

New York Times Admits to Bad Photo Choice for Story About Murdered Israeli Soldier

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Picture of mother of Palestinian man who killed 19-year-old IDF soldier Eden Atias. Photo: Screen shot.

The New York Times on Tuesday admitted to a “poor choice” after receiving heavy criticism for publishing a photo of a weeping Palestinian woman as the lead photo in an article about a murdered Israeli soldier.

The story on the murder of 19-year-old Israeli soldier Eden Atias was published last week with a photo of the murderer’s weeping mother as the main photo.

In the New York Times opinion pages on Tuesday, Margaret Sullivan, The Times’ public editor, called the decision to run the photo “a poor choice, failing to put the focus where it belonged.”

“I spoke on Monday afternoon to two senior editors at The Times,” Sullivan wrote. “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.”

Sullivan also quoted two editors more directly involved with the photo being published. Michele McNally, the assistant managing editor in charge of photography, said, “This did not represent the essence of the story, which was clearly the moment of the Israeli soldier being stabbed.”

“The selection of the Palestinian mother’s ‘art’ with the article was an effort to achieve balance, but such an effort was not appropriate in this case.”

Foreign Editor Joseph Kahn also weighed in on the controversy, apologizing and saying, “We don’t always get it right.”

Earlier this week Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Judi Rudoren responded to an angry Facebook post about the photo, saying it “was not the best choice (I did not know about it until the other reader wrote me), and that for sure it should have at least been paired with a picture of the victim.”

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