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.
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.”