Reuters Accused of Biased Cropping of Flotilla Raid Photographs

News agency Reuters is being accused of biased reporting after it was discovered that photographs released by the agency had critical elements such as daggers, blood, and injured soldiers cropped out. The story originally broke on Little Green Footballs over the weekend.

Here’s a photograph released by Reuters showing activists attempting to take an Israeli soldier hostage:

Inspection of the original photograph reveals that three important elements were cropped out of the photograph. The first is the second injured soldier in the upper right hand corner, the second is the knife being held by an activist, and third is the large pool of blood on the wooden railing.

Here’s another photograph released by Reuters:

From looking at the original photograph, we see that a knife was cropped out of this one as well:

Reuters is no stranger to controversy, as there have been quite a few cases where photographs were retracted, with the subjects ranging from Middle East conflicts to the recent volcano eruption in Iceland.

Reuters has responded to this latest controversy on their blog, saying:

A number of readers contacted us about this. At the top and bottom you can see our initial cropped versions on the left, and the full frame versions on the right.

The images in question were made available in Istanbul, and following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges. When we realized that a dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images, Reuters immediately moved the original set, as well.

Reuters has also published a series of non-cropped photographs of the raid in a slideshow.

What are your thoughts on this controversy? Do you think the daggers were “inadvertently” cropped from the images, or is this a case of biased reporting?

(via Amateur Photographer)

  • Arseny M

    Off course, it was not intentional.. I mean, when I ran over the pedestrian, I didn't intend to hit the reverse to make sure if he's ok.

    It is truly sad that a big agency such as Reuters can not be trusted…

  • NG

    There's an easy way to find out if it's biased: how many times has Reuters accidentally screwed up and caused a photograph to make Israel look better?

  • Pdxflint

    As a former photojournalist, there was no real reason to crop these shots, especially when they left out critical information… in both photos. Nothing “accidental” about it, sorry Reuters. It was a bad call.

  • Greystone

    Is the Israeli soldier wearing a thong?

  • Todd

    Agree with Pdxflint. Nothing gained with the crop, a lot lost (including key context). Poor form Reuters.

    PS – Greystone, yes, definitely a thong.

  • Kavi

    i am more disturbed by the soldier's thong, tbh.

    (by the way, is that really a pool of blood there? looks like a pool of water, with the red from the wood just being reflected. which would make sense. since they're, uh, on a ship.)

  • RodinUK

    If Reuters were really wanting to distort the story they would have released the pictures with the knife and captioned them with something like 'activist holding captured soldiers weapon'. In thee second picture the knife is being held like a pen hardly the action of someone wanting to use it.

    Do we know whether that is the commando's knife or was it somehow smuggled aboard? We don't know. The captured commando clearly has a bloody hand. Is his hand cut? We don't know. Did he put his hand on the rail to cause the bloody mark? Again, we don't know, it's possible but would be speculation. By cropping the picture Reuters have removed elements of speculation that could be twisted one way or another.

    What is clear, however, is that very few organizations have chose to publish the picture of the commando receiving medical treatment surely a lot more significant an omission.

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    I do not know other people's think is going on here but the guy is unarmed and being subdued in the top photo, on the floor bleeding in the second. Some may say they took the knife from him but in any case he looks like he developed holes afterward.

  • Ekatz

    Considering Reuter's history of “objective” middle-east reporting, anyone who thinks this cropping was unintentional is invited to meet me in Brooklyn. There is a bridge I would like to sell.

  • Jake

    Off course they were cropped – Look at the Photo size pics .. WHat kind of photojournalist were you?? Prob in your dreams

  • Mike

    It is speculation either way. By cropping the pictures in this way, Reuters tried to influence which way the speculation would go. In doing so, it broke the rules of journalism and entered the realm of advocacy for one side.

  • Koly

    And this is really not their first time –

  • NG

    I'd like to clear up an important issue that's been mentioned a few times in the comments above: the commando's apparent “thong” style women's underwear.

    Non-Israelis don't realize that Israeli men generally wear women's underwear. They just think it's men's underwear. Sometimes they wear boxer shorts or boxer-briefs, but only to the beach as a substitute for a swimsuit. Welcome to the Middle East.

    In the Israeli military there are some American Jews who moved to Israel. When they receive their army-issue underwear, they typically use it to clean their boots, and they continue wearing their normal good old American underwear. I've been living in this country for six years and have not yet successfully worn a pair of Israeli underwear.

  • RodinUK

    The point of my comment was to demonstrate that, by cropping parts of the image out, Reuters prevented speculation in either direction, I must not have made this clear to some.

    The cropped image does not invite speculation, it shows the injured commando at the feet of his captors, nothing more.

    It is the uncropped image invites us to speculate about the knife. Who's is it? Where did it come from? Did it cause the injuries? It is clear from other comments in this post that the viewers prejudices are what influence the speculation and the conclusions drawn only serve to reinforce those prejudices.

  • Jke

    You might want to reread what Pdxflint wrote… He/She said there was no “reason to crop these shots”, not that they were not cropped.
    Your last sentence was very productive.