Yahoo News has unpublished an aggregated story and image that led to charges of racism, according to the author of the original post.
The Aug. 29 story, by Forbes’ E.D. Kain, focused on “Crime in the Wake of Hurricane Irene,” as Kain described in a follow-up blog post detailing how his story and image became the subject of racism charges on Daily Kos. With that original report, Kain included a photo he said he found on Daylife.com.
The image pictured a black man who was described by Kain as “walking through an empty flooded street.” He captioned the photo ” A resident walks through floodwater on Coney Island after Hurricane Irene hit, in New York, August 28, 2011.”
When Yahoo News picked up his post, it used “the title as a caption,” which “makes the picture look, well, frankly it does look racist — especially if you don’t bother to read the post,” Kain explained in his blog post. Then, the Daily Kos blog wrote about the Yahoo News version of Kain’s post and called the post racist, he wrote.
He explained in his blog pots that he understands how the Yahoo News report could be construed as racist, but criticized the Daily Kos for not returning to the original source of the Yahoo News post — his Forbes blog post. He wrote:
“I don’t blame anyone for seeing something like the Yahoo post and thinking it looked racist. It did. I didn’t even know it existed though!”
Kain wrote that he thinks Daily Kos wouldn’t have accused the post of racism if it had looked at his Forbes report. Kain also called for bloggers to follow an ethics code. Some suggested requirements for that code include, according to Kain’s blog:
“Go to the source. Read the post. Email the author – I have my email address right there plain to see. Maybe see what other stuff the author writes about so that you can determine what their politics are. “
iMediaEthics asked Kain what other guidelines he would advise for bloggers. He told iMediaEthics via e-mail that he doesn’t expect a formal blogging ethics code to be “set in stone” and commented that “it’s not quite journalism, so it’s impossible to follow all the same rules.” He added:
“However, I think treating the source of your post honestly is important. You don’t necessarily need to contact the author of a piece, but in a case like this it doesn’t hurt. I imagine many writers on the web not only don’t choose their headlines, but also don’t choose the photographs or images that accompany their posts. So it’s important to find out what’s going on, not just what your gut tells you.”
Kain noted that he has since removed the photo from his Forbes post. He explained to iMediaEthics via e-mail that he told his Forbes editors about the Yahoo News post when he saw it and that “they worked with Yahoo to take down the post.”
The Daily Kos post has since been updated, although it doesn’t disclose how. Kain told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “to my knowledge, the Daily Kos post was never updated to reflect anything I wrote on the matter.”
The Maynard Institute reported Yahoo News spokesperson Bahareh Ramin e-mailed Journal-isms that Yahoo News did remove the story. Ramin stated:
“I just received confirmation that Yahoo! News had originally received the image and story from Forbes.com, but due to a technical error, did not receive the update when Forbes updated their post and removed the photo. The story has since been taken down from Yahoo! News.”
iMediaEthics has written to Daily Kos and Yahoo News’ Ramin for more information and will update with any response.