Media organizations and the journalists who work for them have come under some very serious pressures and criticisms over the last few years. Many of them, such as the “wag the dog” style of fake news and alternative facts are beyond their control. However, it becomes increasingly easy to tar and feather the entire industry when some organizations are lazy in their attention to detail.
I recently came upon an article in The Ontario Herald and noticed the featured image at the top of the article was credited as follows: “Source: Internet.”
The image in question is an editorial cartoon merging news with art which prominently features the title “Les Dépolorables.” It seemed to me it would be easy to trace its origins. It took me less than 30 seconds to do a Google search and find a Wall Street Journal article using the same image with appropriate attribution: “Photo credit: Chad Crowe.”
It struck me that a news organization that did that once, is just as likely to do that regularly. So, I searched the Ontario Herald site for “Source: Internet” and found this to be the case. As a test, I grabbed two more articles to see if I could go three-for-three on tracing image sources.
I didn’t even have to bother. The next two articles I found had the source printed right on the image (see images below). One by the Associated Press and another by Greenpeace. And STILL, the Ontario Herald lazily used “Source: Internet” immediately below the real credit.
I dug into other articles in the site and found that their usual practice is to exclude any reference to credit by not including a credit caption for their photos (I should note that many bloggers, including myself, put featured photo credits at the end of their posts).
With credible journalism under the microscope as it is, there is a collective responsibility for all media organizations to make sure they never look lazy or unwilling to provide attribution where it is easy and necessary.
Last week I notified the organization about a fourth instance to see if they would respond and correct the problem. The Ontario Herald has yet to respond to me directly or fix their photo credits.