NY Post runs pictures of men it says feds are looking for

New York Post | Gawker | Deadspin | The Washington Post | ABC News

Unnamed law-enforcement officials investigating the Boston Marathon bombings are circulating photos “in an attempt to identify the individuals highlighted therein,” an email obtained by the New York Post says. The Post put one of the purported photos on its front page Thursday.

Courtesy the Newseum

“It was not immediately clear if the men in the law-enforcement photos are the same men” in surveillance videos that the FBI said Wednesday may provide a break in the case, Larry Celona, Brad Hamilton and Jamie Schram write.

Wednesday, numerous news organizations cited anonymous law enforcement sources in reports that an arrest had been made in the bombing. It hadn’t. On the day of the bombings, the Post reported “at least 12 dead.” Three people died.

The Post also reported a “Saudi Arabian national” was a “suspect” in the bombings. He was not. Amid its reporting of the “arrest” Wednesday, CNN’s John King said officials had detained a “dark-skinned male,” a nugget The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote was “useless information that borders on inflammatory.”

ABC News found one of the young men, Salah Barhoun, a 17-year-old who said he was “shocked to see his face pop up on television and all over social media.” Feds, sources told Shahriar Rahmanzadeh, Jennifer Leong, Santina Leuci and Rhonda Schwartz report, indeed “passed around images of Barhoun, attempting to learn more information about him.”

New York Post Editor Col Allan on Thursday afternoon told The Washington Post “We stand by our story. … We did not identify them as suspects.” Hence, uh, “BAG MEN”?

The FBI Wednesday asked news organizations to “exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”

Reddit is freaking out about this. Redditors “managed to figure out pretty quickly that the guy in the blue track jacket almost certainly isn’t a bomber,” Max Read writes in Gawker. “All they had to do was find his Facebook.” There, the young man wrote he was “going to the court” to clear things up.

It took Redditors a few hours to find that Facebook page; it took me about ten minutes in the wake of their work. If you have even a little faith in the FBI, it’s difficult to imagine that its investigators didn’t figure out who this kid is, and how unlikely he is as a suspect, yesterday—especially after he went to authorities to clear his name.

As Washington City Paper Editor Mike Madden put it:

 

Related: Confusion reigns in reporting of Boston ‘arrest’ | FBI Boston: Media should ‘exercise caution…before reporting’

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  • Richard Holmes

    Nomination for Teflon Publisher: Rupert Murdoch, whose connection to the New York Post is not to be found in any stories I have seen on this topic.

  • NateBowman

    “Reddit is freaking out about this.”

    You are implying that the reaction is inappropriately strong and irrational.

    First, I got no such impression from the Redditt article.

    Second, since it is supposed to be a bastion of journalism, it would have been encouraging to see Poynter react by freaking out about this breach of journalistic ethics and principles.

    You know; like you did over the vilification of non-journalist MIke Daisey stretching the truth about Apple factories in China.

  • NateBowman

    “Unnamed
    law-enforcement officials investigating the Boston Marathon bombings are
    circulating photos “in an attempt to identify the individuals
    highlighted therein,” an email obtained by the New York Post says.”

    Unless
    you have personally seen the email, Mr. Beaujon, the appropriate
    journalistic phrasing would be “the Post claims is included in an email
    the Post says it has obtained”.

    Otherwise, you give your confirmation to the Post claim.
    Which
    is quite dangerous considering the climate surrounding the event and
    the Post’s history in general and recent history regarding this issue in
    particular.

    Similarly, the headline should have been “Redditt says men NY Post claims feds are looking are local high school track runners”
    That would be journalism.
    Rather than being only marginally better than the behavior you are citing.