Dawn suffered a public embarrassment yesterday when it made the mistake of publishing a photo without doing basic background research to verify the authenticity of the picture. The photo, used to accompany an article by Michael Georgy titled, ‘US will suffer if it tries to attack Waziristan, says Haqqani’ included the caption: “THIS picture taken from web shows Jalaluddin Haqqani, father of Sirajuddin Haqqani, with former US President Ronald Reagan. Courtesy Time & Life Pictures Getty Image. – Online”.
The photo, which had been circulating online for a few days provided damning evidence of American duplicity and backed up claims that Haqqani was CIA’s ‘blue eyed boy’. Only problem, no Haqqani appeared in the photo. Actually, it showed Mohammad Younis Khalis with former US President Ronald Reagan.
This is an easy mistake to make. Long beard, turban…they all pretty much look the same, right? And if the point of printing the photo was to embarrass the Americans, are the facts really more important than the message?
The funny thing is, as easy a mistake as this was for Dawn to make, it was just as easy to avoid. If you notice, the photo published by Dawn includes a watermark that says ‘TIME&LIFE PICTURES gettyimages’. These watermarks are tools used by media companies to protect their copyrighted material. The idea is that a publisher will not want to publish a photo that has writing all over it, and if they do, the copyright holder will know that they did not pay the proper licensing fee to use the photo.
One of the major companies to license images to publishers is GettyImages, and it is their watermark that appears on Dawn‘s photo. We decided to do a little photo research and discovered that, yes, this photo of Ronald Reagan and Mohammad Younis Khalis is a copyrighted image that can be licensed from GettyImages. The cost to license the photo? $118.
If Dawn would have researched the photo – and the source was printed across the front of it, so it wasn’t hard to track down – they would have seen that it was not Jalaluddin Haqqani, but Mohammad Younis Khalis. Instead, they printed the photo without doing any fact checking.
Oh, and as for photos of Jalaluddin Haqqani enjoying chai samosa with an American president, they don’t exist. But only because, despite the eager claims of media commentators, he never went to US. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good story!