AP Re-Publishes Retracted Navy Yard Shootings Pics after Verification

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Tim Hogan, who posted a Navy Yard shootings photo to Twitter, noted what he knew and didn't know about the photo. (Credit: Twitter, screenshot)

The Associated Press retracted two photos from its coverage of the Navy Yard shootings, only to later re-publish the same photos.

As iMediaEthics wrote at the time, the AP pulled two pictures because it said it was “unable to confirm that the incident shown in this picture is directly connected with the shootings.” One of the pictures appeared to show someone lying on the ground near a CVS.

Originally, the AP’s spokesperson Paul Colford told the Atlantic Wire that it killed the photos because they were “unrelated to the violence at the Navy Yard.” Further, the AP admitted it “should have vetted” the pictures better.

But, the AP ended up deciding that the photos were related to the shootings, the Atlantic Wire reported, so the AP re-published them.

According to an AP article that explained the background of the photo, the picture was taken by Congressional staffer Don Andres and provided to the AP.  The article reads:

“The Associated Press had distributed two photos Andres took on Monday but hours later withdrew the photos until it could be verified they were related to the Navy Yard shootings. The AP reissued the photos along with this story.”

The AP verified the photos by confirming what they showed — a man named James Birdsall was helping Vishnu Pandit, who had been shot.  As the AP excused in its report, the photo raised lots of “questions about what it showed.”

“Was it really a shooting victim? If so, how did he get blocks from the scene? There was speculation that someone had a heart attack, unrelated to the chaos blocks away,” the AP wrote.

iMediaEthics must state the obvious here: AP should have gotten answers to these questions before the original publication in order to have avoided the messy publish/un-publish/publish again sequence.

But, by after-the-fact learning the story behind the photo, the AP felt justified that they were related to the Navy Yard shootings and re-published it.

Andres later told the Review Journal the back story about how he got the photos. According to the Review Journal, he said that he took the pictures with his phone from a car and he and Tim Hogan, the communications director for Andres’ boss, Nevada’s Rep. Steven Horsford, tweeted a picture.

Hogan tweeted the photos.





Hogan also gave permission for news outlets to use the photos, and added that he couldn’t “confirm details re: nature of  photo.”



iMediaEthics wrote Sept. 25 about University of Kansas associate journalism professor David Guth who was put on “indefinite administrative leave” over a tweet he posted about the shootings.

He had tweeted : “#NavyYardShooting blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

Check out iMediaEthics’ previous report, 3 Media Missteps in Navy Yard Shootings Reporting.


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AP Re-Publishes Retracted Navy Yard Shootings Pics after Verification

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