NBC News Caption Said 'Fireman Holds Up Fire Truck' in Sinkhole

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Bad Captions»

LOOK MOM, ONE HAND!--Did a Los Angles fire fighter really hold up this fire truck? NBC News caption writer said so.(Credit: NBC News, screenshot, highlights added, Nick Ut /AP)

Did a firefighter act like a super hero and lift a fire truck with one hand? Apparently, a caption writer for NBC News thinks so.


Here is the larger screen shot view of the AP photo on NBC News’ website. The bad caption claim –that the firefighter is holding up the truck–is to the right of the image. (Credit: NBC News, screenshot, highlight added)

NBC News dug up a 2009 photo of a “fire truck stuck in a sinkhole” to include in its recent slideshow “Striking sinkholes: Earth opens up.”  The caption claimed that an unnamed fireman “holds up” the truck. It stated: “A Los Angeles fireman holds up a fire truck stuck in a sinkhole in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles on Sept. 8, 2009.”

Check out NBC News’ caption. (Credit: NBC News, screenshot, highlight added)


But, the Associated Press, which released the photo, carried an accurate photo caption reading:

“A Los Angeles fireman looks under a fire truck stuck in a sinkhole in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009. Four firefighters escaped injury early Tuesday after their fire engine sunk into a large hole caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley, authorities said. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)”

That caption was used by the New Haven Register in its March 2, 2013 slideshow on “Sinkholes around the world – the last 20 years.”

iMediaEthics asked NBC News to correct its caption. NBC News’ Meghan Piana told us this afternoon that the caption would be updated “to accurately reflect the photo.”  As of 2:30 PM ET, the caption has been fixed (without disclosure) to read that the fireman now “looks under” the truck.


UPDATE: 3:44PM EST:  Added quote from original caption.

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Super Hero Firefighter? NBC News Caption Said ‘Fireman Holds Up a Fire Truck’ in Sinkhole

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *