NY Post Uses Photo of Innocent Teen as Boston Bombing Cover Photo


Yesterday we reported that the online communities of Reddit and 4chan were attempting to identify the attacks behind the Boston Marathon bombings by crowdsourcing publicly available photographs from the scene. We blurred the faces in the photos we shared, since it was likely the people in them are completely innocent.

At least one (much larger) news source didn’t. The New York Post actually took one of the photographs being circulated by vigilant photo detectives and ran it on the front page of its newspaper. The headline: “Bag Men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.”

Here’s the original photograph the cover photograph was cropped from:


Inside the story were additional photographs of the two men.

The decision to run the photographs soon blew up in the newspaper’s face. When the FBI released its official suspect photographs and video footage yesterday, it was clear that neither of the two men on the NY Post cover were actual suspects.

It turns out one of the men in the photographs is a 17-year-old teen named Salah Barhoum. Barhoum, whose life has been turned upside down after his face was published all over the country, insists that he was simply watching the marathon with a friend.

The NY Daily News quickly pounced on the NY Post‘s misstep by running a major story clearing Barhoum’s name. It contacted the teen, and found out that he’s actually a track star at high school school — hence the track suit and duffel bag he was wearing at the marathon.

Photos of Salah Barhoum at school and at the marathon

Photos of Salah Barhoum at school and at the marathon

Later in the day yesterday, the NY Post finally published a second story titled “Two men probed in Boston Marathon bombings cleared by investigators.”

However, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Col Allan says he still stands by his decision to run the photos, saying “We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.”

The cover photo and headline seem to tell a different story. That’s why the NY Post’s decision is now being called “a new low” and “appalling.”

  • Zos Xavius

    I smell a lawsuit….

  • Sporkguy

    The NY Post sounds like it’s the American equivalent to the UK’s ‘The Sun’ or ‘Daily Mail’ – disgusting, shame on them.

  • Leif Sikorski

    That’s a point where social networks can get dangerous. Someone starts a wave and all begin to ride on top of it.

  • Mansgame

    I hope the innocent victims (they too were there) sue the paper for every penny they have.

  • Alan Dove

    Yes, that’s exactly the right comparison.

  • Alan Dove

    Headless body in editorial office.

  • Doug

    Ha! Since when did we look to the New York Post for journalistic integrity?

  • 432342

    america has a sick society….

  • Jeffrey Lee

    They’ve been the home of fear mongering and race baiting for as long as I can remember. Nothing new from this deplorable “news” organization. Any wonder it’s owned by that scum of the earth Rupert Murdoch?

  • Maw

    I do feel bad for sharing a photo thread with the pics 4chan speculated over. But essentially this is the fault of people taking speculation as evidence. Even if the social networks did not find the right person they still showed that in this manner stuff can be found, and it can be found fast. If they would have had accesss to the security footage, from which FBI found the bombers, they would probably have found it too. I do agree with you that when interpreted wrongly, social networks are dangerous. But we need to think about what it is that makes them dangerous. A somewhat innocent ( to start with) attempt to contribute to finding the ones responsible was taken completely out of concept by the press and the public

  • Rob S

    I am SHOCKED, shocked I tell you that a Rupert Murdock owned media company would just make stuff up and call it news.

    I hope these two sue the crap out of News Corp.

  • Rob S

    America? This is pure Murdock, imported from Australia by way of the UK.

  • Greg McKay

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Derrick Lytle

    The Post is and has always been crap.

  • Stokov

    a sick society may be part of it, I have a lot of american friends, who think differently, a sick media is trying to tell people whats right and wrong. posting the faces of two innocent people on the frontpage? people who do this don’t have a clue what journalism is about, like 60% of the US media..
    well…people will search the internet to find the facebook site of the chief editor, post and humiliate him and his family, photoshopped images will be postet on social media platforms to make a joke out of it, of course lawsuites will follow, in which again the “media” will take part to tell us what’s right and wrong.

    I am awful sorry for the people who sufferd in the Boston bombings.
    In Syria, things like this happen 10 times a day and nobody cares.

  • Allan Winchester

    Someone once famously said “Stupid should hurt.”

    In the NY Post’s case, it’s going to be “Stupid and irresponsible are VERY expensive.”

    Here’s hoping the two young men who were defamed and slandered hire the best shark attorneys NYC has to offer who will carve up the NY Post in court.

  • Duke Shin

    They pulled their info from 4chan /r/.
    What did they expect?

  • Jeri

    I like turtles.

  • Ziz

    So, if this guy was dreaming of getting a Leica, he soon can.

  • madmax

    Now you can go to church and then enjoy a cup of tea at the tea party.

  • Cade Michael

    What the hell does that have to do with printing images and headlines that strongly intimate that two young men were guilty? Whoever approved this image be printed should be fired immediately.