Accuracy in Media

As the coronavirus news coverage intensifies with more cases occurring outside of China, the mainstream media outlets ran into a controversy about which photos to use in its articles.

NBC News claimed that the New York Times, the Hill, and the New York Post used photos of Asian people wearing masks with their reporting on the coronavirus.

The outlets have since apologized for their use of photos and pledged not to repeat the mistake.

New York Times vice president of communications Danielle Rhoades Ha said, “We’ve published hundreds of stories on the coronavirus, and each one requires an image…In this case, the image selection was an oversight that was addressed quickly.” The Hill’s editor-in-chief, Bob Cusak, told NBC Asian America, “We also emailed the newsroom about photo selection on stories while adding new photos of coronavirus from multiple countries.” The New York Post did not respond to NBC News’s report.

The photo-use controversy also extended to social media accounts for the newspapers.

The coronavirus, which is believed to have started in the Chinese province of Wuhan, has since spread across the globe and allegedly spurred consumers to buy water, toilet paper and other supplies in droves. There have been allegations of anti-Asian violence and discrimination since public health authorities and the media confirmed that China was the source of the coronavirus.

The media should have taken care in choosing stock photos for its articles. Implicitly or not, the mainstream media’s use of Asian individuals in photographs stereotype Asian people as carriers of the virus. Although the media backtracked on its use of Asians in its photos and apologized to the public, but it should not have taken place.

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