Harlem & Ethiopia – media photo confusion

By Staff Writer

New YorkSlate Magazine reports that a story discussing HIV-positive Harlem children in the current issue of Nature Medicine, includes a photo taken in Addis Ababa, which suggests to depict the Harlem children.

The picture, showing a black toddler standing in a crib – “one of nine paint-chipped, closely packed cribs occupied by other toddlers” – was taken by photographer Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranen in Ethiopia at an orphanage run by nuns, according to iStockphoto, the stock photography house where Nature purchased the image.

The photo was published with the vague caption that read “Foster children took part in trials of AIDS drugs.”

Juan Carlos López, Editor of Nature Medicine, told Slate that he approved the photo, but was not aware that it was taken in Ethiopia.

“He says the journal’s production editors routinely identify images for it and that this particular image was not queried by the publication’s fact-checker”, wrote Jack Shafer of online magazine Slate.

“Although the image’s vague caption does not state that the scene was captured in Harlem, Lopez concedes the unnecessary confusion it may have caused.”

Big confusion, indeed. Read the full story at Slate.com.

2 Responses to “Harlem & Ethiopia – media photo confusion”

  1. 1 Nolawi Dec 12th, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    he he he he;

    I don’t think the validity of the story can be questioned just because the author/designer decided to use royalty free stock photography.

    images are used real or abstract or symbolic or not related to reinforce rhetoric or story…

    Slate is trying to hit below the belt on BBC.

    My 2 santemoch!

  2. 2 Hailu Dec 12th, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    The argument: “images are used real or abstract or symbolic or not related to reinforce rhetoric or story…”,

    It would be correct, except (like in this case), when an image implies to chronicle an actual event. Mind you, Ethiopia and Harlem are not neighbors.

    To quote Slate, “That Nature Medicine’s image-pickers equated neglected Ethiopian orphans with HIV-positive foster children in Harlem (some of whom were Hispanic, by the way) reveals this disquieting tendency.”

    The story is about “…the politics of medicine, and about HIV dissenters.”

    Furhtermore, “The Nature Medicine report is about a major media organization apologizing for distributing inferior work…” (Referring to BBC’s apology – Slate obviously is not trying to hit below the belt on this one, maybe a little loud singing — wake up call — to all of us).

    And finally, “The image chosen conveys nothing about those complex topics. Instead, it reduces the rich topic to a shocking tableau depicting neglected black toddlers.”


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