WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Accurate but Not Truthful

Jul 15, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss an accurate yet misleading photo used by the PJ Star during this year’s state basketball playoffs.

The photo appears to show a player flipping off the crowd, and a blog post by the sports editor took the player to task for the gesture.

However video shows the player did no such thing. The athlete raised his arms after a play and the photograph caught him at the exact moment his fingers were positioned in a way that looked incriminating. 

The Poynter Institute discovered the photo was misleading and said it was an example of how journalism can be accurate but not truthful.  You can see the photo and video on the Poynter Institute’s website.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton learned about the matter while attending a conference at Poynter.  She said the gesture lasted about 1/13th of a second.  Crighton said the sports editor failed to do the necessary follow up reporting before writing his blog post.

Panelist Rich Egger noted no one in the arena that evening reacted as though the player had made an obscene gesture toward them -- because he hadn’t.  He wondered why the photographer or the PJ Star’s reporter at the game didn’t raise concerns before the blog post went public.

Panelist Lisa Kernek also criticized the sports editor for writing blog post without doing any follow up and without giving the player a chance to respond.  She said it almost cost the player a chance to participate in a later game.  Kernek also said the photographer apologized to the player.