NYT says its Gaza photos are real

BagNews

The New York Times says Atlantic senior editor David Frum is incorrect to claim that some photos taken in Gaza last week were faked or staged. “David Frum’s claims are false,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter. Frum sent several tweets last week claiming the photos were faked.

“We have a complete account from the photographer, Sergey Ponomarev, who arrived with two other photographers to a local hospital as ambulances began arriving with dead and wounded civilians following an Israeli military strike on the outskirts of Khan Younis,” Murphy writes in an email.

Ponomarev “witnessed the man covered in blood in this photo arrive in an ambulance with a badly wounded elderly man (who ultimately died),” Murphy writes. “He sent us 84 pictures in total that give a complete understanding of the events as they unfolded.”

The photography news site BagNews examined photos from The New York Times, Reuters and the Associated Press following Frum’s accusations. Frum started by linking to a post from Thomas Wictor, who made the case that photos of the scene from Reuters were staged.

Here’s how BagNews summed up the flap:

Comparing the Reuters portrait above (#2) with an AP photo from the hospital someone randomly sent to him (#6 below), Wictor noticed that the brothers in the portrait no longer had blood on their hands and face and concluded that there must be some Palestinian, as well as media trickery going on. Rather than submitting Wictor’s accusation of subterfuge to further review however, Frum not only took the accusations on faith but added the NY Times to the supposed conspiracy because the Times featured a similar portrait (#1) by one of its own photographers taken almost simultaneously to the Reuters photo (#2).

BagNews’ post offers a possible timeline of the photos and asks — is it possible the two men eventually washed the blood off their faces and hands?

In any case, I contacted Reuters for a statement and they wrote back:

“We’ve confirmed with our photographer that the man in the photo washed his hands and face after his father’s body was admitted to the hospital.”

In March of this year, Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon wrote about Reuters using activists as photographers in Syria. The company then told Poynter that there were no instances of staged photos “in Syria or elsewhere.”

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