Reuters under fire for removing weapons, blood from images of Gaza flotilla
News agency rejects charges of biased coverage, says it reverted to use of 'original set' of images once cropping discovered.
The Reuters news agency has been accused of removing images of activists wielding weapons and bloodied and wounded Israeli naval commandos from photographs taken on board a ship headed for Gaza during deadly clashes last week.
Nine people were killed and dozens others, among them Israel Defense Forces soldiers, were hurt when the clashes erupted as IDF troops tried to board the Mavi Marmara ship in order to prevent it reaching its destination in Gaza.
The ship was one of six vessels that made up the "Freedom Flotilla," a convoy carrying aid that set out from Turkey in an attempt to break Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip. Five of the boats in the convoy were boarded by IDF troops without incident, while passengers on the sixth fought the troops as they came onboard. All six boats were towed by the Israel Navy to the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
Reuters on Monday rejected accusations of biased coverage, adding that it had reverted to the use of "the original set" of images, once the organization realized that the photographs it had published had been cropped.
A Reuters spokesman told Haaretz: "Reuters is committed to an accurate and impartial reporting. All images that pass over our wire follow a strict editorial evaluation and selection process.
"The images in question were made available in Istanbul in following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges. When we realized that the dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images Reuters immediately moved to the original set as well.”
This is not the first time that Reuters has been criticized for images that appear to be biased against Israel. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the news agency admitted that one of its pictures of destruction caused by Israel's bombing of Beirut had been altered with a computer graphics program.
Political commentator Tom Gross told Haaretz that "this isn’t the first time Reuters had been caught altering photos to make them less sympathetic to Israel. They did so, for example, in the 2006 Lebanon war."
"Everyone makes mistakes, including journalists, but every time Reuters says it makes a mistake, it does so to Israel’s detriment, and this looks suspiciously like a deliberate pattern."
"The father of Julius Reuter – the German Jew who founded Reuters – was a rabbi. He must be turning in his grave at how Reuters is helping to stir up delegtimization against the Jewish state."