This time around it’s the BBC. That bastion of accuracy impartiality and standard…. , hold on, let me finish before you start shouting at the screen.
Yep, so the BBC, one of the most popular news sites on the Internet and known for it fairness and ethical standards…., I said, hold on, just let me finish. Jeez, some people are sooooo impatient.
Right, the BBC have made a cock-up. There got it out. Now you can shout.
The mistake is not a major one mind you, but it still shows that the BBC is at the same level as the Guardian and Daily Mail in terms of accuracy and journalistic standards.
In a story covering the recent slaughter in Syria the BBC used a picture showing rows of bodies in shrouds which is the usual method of preparing a body for burial in Islam. Having got some of the news direct from activists in Syria they also seem to have got the image as well. The BBC, who probably thought that anyone who gives information and pictures to the BBC must be on the winning side and doesn’t need to use propaganda and false details, used the picture as is with just a little copyright style note to say “from activist”. They did put a caption to indicate that the photo had not been verified which is more a weasley legal nicety rather than anything to do with indicating that they are in the process of checking it.
As an indication that the verification was not really carried out properly, it took the BBC 9 hours before the picture was removed. In the usual BBC way, silently and with no notes about the story being updated. Though it did put out a notice saying “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours following the most recent atrocities in Syria. We used it with a clear disclaimer saying it could not be independently verified. Efforts were made overnight to track down the original source of the image and when it was established the picture was inaccurate we removed it immediately.”
Was the long period due to the BBC having to double check with various obscure photo agencies that the photo was not already copyrighted? Nope. I just dragged the original image into Google Images and immediately it suggested that the photo was by Marco Di Lauro and also available from Getty Images. It took me 9 seconds, not 9 hours.
The original picture was taken 6 years ago and is from the Iraq war.
The BBC have access to Getty Images and could even have used their own image recognition service (PicScout) to check the photo’s attribution. So they used a nicked copy of the photo and put the wrong copyright notice on it, even though they had the rights to use the original.
Lazy journalism. Yep. Accurate journalism. Nope. The BBC seem to have picked up tips from the Daily Mail on journalism and have done the publish first and fast and then get the accuracy right (but only if someone notices and complains) method.