The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

ABC News Illustrates Excellence

Whoa... a fauxtographic exposé from my favorite data mining expert? Awesome!

This is off topic, but given that it is about news media and a little about science, I thought I'd squeeze it in. ABC News has an article today, authored by Ashley Phillips, about pollution in American cities. The article is fronted with an image of Pittsburgh (on top of the list of polluted places) in all its smoggy glory. However, the image includes the Three Rivers Stadium. This stadium was demolished early in 2001. So why post an out of date image with this story? Are the images of the other cities somehow incorrect as well? Perhaps the image is doctored to boot.

I'm guessing that 'news' sources of this type have a constant stream of such inaccuracies - more strength to the fifth estate and algorithmic news.

One can only imagine that the ABC News staffer that was responsible for picking a photograph to accompany a story about Pittsburgh's pollution was on a tight deadline, and picked the most polluted-looking of the pictures from their archives. Why did the editorial desk not catch this glaring error? I'll leave that up to reader speculation, because I know I probably wouldn't have caught it.

Great catch, Matthew! We'll make a "fauxtography" expert out of you, yet!

Update: Leave it up to the good folks of Stinky Journalism to get the problem solved, and fast! After a brief call to ABC, Rhonda Shearer managed to get them to completely replace the photo in the story.

Of course, the new photo they selected dates back to 2003, but hey, it's better than it was before! Here's the original caption, for your reference:

The skyline of Pittsburgh is seen through the morning haze from across the Allegeheny River Wednesday, July 2, 2003. While air pollution declined both statewide and nationally from 2000 to 2001, in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, it increased by about 20 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Great job, Rhonda!



#1 Rhonda R. Shearer 01-May-2008
Hi Snapped Shot,

We included your comment here about DataMining on stinkyjournalism's editor's picks. Thanks for posting it.

We also called to get a correction and added the following on DataMining's comments section:

We at commend you for catching this error. We called to inform them of your efforts and they said "Thank you" and "are looking for a new photo now."

We advocate not just finding the errors and publishing them but contacting the media outlet in advance of publication in order to give them a chance to respond and correct. Then, depending on what happens, the corrections, denials or their apologies are part of our story. Our main focus is to create change and to clean up the mess of Internet error zombies that live forever unless shot (metaphorically speaking) in the head. It's an inaccuracy oil spill out there. Let's hold the MsM accountable and make them clean their mess up.

Your pals at
#2 Rhonda R. Shearer 01-May-2008
Update: ABC has now changed the photo.

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