Flashback: BBC News Runs 2003 Iraq Photo as Syrian Massacre Photo

Flashback: BBC News Runs 2003 Iraq Photo as Syrian Massacre Photo

On May 27, 2012, BBC News ran a photograph purportedly showing victims of Syrian violence. There was only one problem: it ran a file photo from Iraq in 2003. The picture actually depicted an Iraqi child among lines of body bags that had been found south of Baghdad. The headline on the BBC News story: “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows.” The photo itself carried a caption explaining that it was “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial.”

The photographer, Marco di Lauro, said that when he saw the image, “I almost fell off from my chair… What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.”

Lauro added, “Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose.”

BBC News pulled the photo but attempted to defend posting it: “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours of this morning 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.”