New York Times building 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan apologized in a
blog post on Tuesday for making a “poor choice” when it came to printing an
“emotional and sympathetic” picture of a Palestinian mother at the head of an
article about the fatal stabbing of Israeli soldier Eden Atias.
19, was attacked on a bus on November 13, an attack that The New York Times said
would “further [cloud] a peace process that was already severely
At the head of the article was a large picture of Silwa
Gawadreh, the mother of the Palestinian teenager who is accused of Atias’s
murder, surrounded by family members and photographs of her son. In the print
edition of the paper, a picture of the bus where the attack took place was
placed under that of Gawadreh. Online, the picture of the bus appears small on
one side and Gawadreh’s photo stands alone at the top of the page. No pictures
of Atias or his family accompany the article.
Addressing the hundreds
letters of complaint that she received, Sullivan wrote that the image was
powerful, but “a poor choice, failing to put the focus where it
Sullivan wrote that she spoke on Monday with two other Times
editors, all of whom agreed it was a “regrettable choice.”
image with an article should reflect the overall point of the article and the
reason for its newsworthiness,” she wrote.
“The selection of the
Palestinian mother’s image with the article was an effort to achieve balance,
but such an effort was not appropriate in this case,” editor Michele McNally
told Sullivan, and said that photographs of the soldier’s funeral were not
available until later in the news cycle.
“We should have waited for that
or substituted it once it came,” she said.
Foreign editor Joseph Kahn
said that while the Times
tries to represent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
accurately and fairly, “we don’t always get it right.”
As of this
writing, Gawadreh’s photo is still the dominant picture on the online article.