HonestReporting Communique - 25 March 2003 - "RACHEL CORRIE,
Dear HonestReporting Member,
The circumstances of American college student Rachel Corrie's March 16
death beneath an IDF bulldozer in Gaza remain unclear. The key unanswered
question: Was Corrie visible and/or audible to the IDF driver just before
The consumer public got a huge dose of misleading information when
Associated Press distributed a photo showing Corrie, standing in
(apparently) direct view of the bulldozer driver, dressed in orange
and speaking into a megaphone in the direction of the oncoming vehicle.
The AP caption reads: "Rachel was run over Sunday by the bulldozer
that she was trying to stop from tearing down a building in the Rafah
camp, witnesses said."
See the AP photo at:
The problem with the AP photo caption is that readers are led to
believe that this photo depicts the very scene and moment of the accident.
implication is criminal recklessness on the part of the IDF driver. In
fact, however, this photo was NOT taken in the moments before Corrie's
death. Joseph Smith, of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity
Movement, was the photographer and wrote a chronological account of the
incident (published on pro-Palestinian websites).
Smith says that the photo of Corrie "standing with megaphone" is
ascribed to the time period 2pm-4pm. In addition, during this period, Smith
notes that the bulldozer "always stopped in time to avoid injuring them."
At the time of Corrie's death (5pm), Smith describes Corrie as
"sitting, with arms waving" (no megaphone), and another colleague holding
megaphone from a distance.
Read Smith's account at:
Thus, the AP photo and caption fails to note the two most essential
factors in determining visibility or lack thereof: 1) Corrie was no longer
standing, but had changed to a sitting position, and 2) she was no
longer in possession of attention-grabbing megaphone.
When publishing such a photo, AP is obligated to explain details of
chronology; in the absence of any information, readers presume that since
the bulldozer appears 8-10 feet away from Corrie, the photographer
must have snapped the picture moments before the bulldozer hit her.
This photo was published by many of the 15,000 media outlets that AP
services. And though the accompanying articles may provide clarifying
information, a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, by not
providing a caption that clearly counterbalances the easy "misread," AP
has misrepresented Corrie's death and contributed to a worldwide
slander of the IDF.
Please send comments to AP:
An example of how the Corrie photo was misused appears in the
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, which ran this photo caption:
"Death of a protester: Rachel Corrie, wearing a reflective Day-Glo
jacket, shouts through a bullhorn at an oncoming Israeli army bulldozer in
southern Gaza Sunday moments before it ran her over."
Meanwhile, CNN.com juxtaposed a pair of "before and after" photos,
which implied a particularly ambiguous sense of chronology. But when
HonestReporting.com provided additional information, CNN issued a
"Caption Clarification." See it at:
HonestReporting encourages members to monitor your local media to see
if they used the misleading photos, as well as what information was provided
in the photo caption and/or article itself to counterbalance any
1.. ZUM TOD VON RACHEL CORRIE SIEHE AUCH EIN BRIEF VON ULRICH W. SAHM
AN HONEST REPORTING
Ap and CNN published two pictures of the tragic event of the death of
US Peace activist in Rafah (Gaza), "before" and "after".
How do you explain, that the headlights mounted on top of the
have completely changed position in the two pictures?
I noticed at a quick glance many other "differences". What you have on
one picture and not on the other: Palm trees, a mosque, more windows
the bulldozer, constructions above the shovel, lights in a different
Obviously these pictures were taken at different times with two
different bulldozers and two separate spots.
Ulrich W. Sahm
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