The BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria.
– BBC News uses ‘Iraq photo to illustrate Syrian massacre’ (Telegraph, May 27, 2012):
Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.
The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.
It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.
The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.
A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down.
Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.
“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.
“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam.
“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.
He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.
“Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose.”
A spokesman for the BBC said: “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.”