NewsTalk falsely captioned multiple photographs in a report on the George Floyd protests to claim they had been taken in Minneapolis, the center of unrest, when in fact the photos had been captured in cities many hundreds of miles away.
BACKROUND: In June 2020, protests in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody occurred in a number of cities, with the first instances of unrest centered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd had died.
THE CLAIM: In a June 3, 2020 story posted on the website of Irish radio news broadcaster NewsTalk, two photographs were published purporting to show scenes from protests in Minneapolis. The first is captioned “A drawing of George Floyd plastered to a light pole during a demonstration in Minneapolis, 02-06-2020” and the second “Demonstrators put their hands behind their heads before being taken into custody in Minneapolis, 03-06-2020.”
INVESTIGATION: According to the photo credit in the first image, NewsTalk acquired it from photo agency SOPA Images. However, the original caption contained in the SOPA Images archive of that photo indicates it was taken in Seattle, not Minneapolis as NewsTalk claimed. What’s more, it’s part of a gallery of images captured by the same photographer on the same date, all of which are very obviously of Seattle, leaving the possibility that the original image itself could have been miscaptioned — a mistake discovered and corrected by NewsTalk — unlikely to the point of impossibility.
In the second image, credited to AP photographer Mark J. Terrill, we see a street sign in the left side of the photo. Enhancing that section of the image shows that this sign is labeled with locations such as “LA Theater Center,” “Pershing Square,” and “Historic Spring Street,” all places in Los Angeles, not Minneapolis. This same photo also appears in a KNBC-TV online story on the protests in which it is captioned “Demonstrators put their hands behind their heads before being taken into custody after the city’s curfew went into effect, June 2, 2020, in Los Angeles.”
RATING: Photos of breaking news in foreign locations can be difficult and expensive to acquire. In many cases, media outlets must rely on photo agencies whose own collections may not always contain the types of images the news outlet is seeking. In this case, NewsTalk miscaptioned available photos so as to change their location, a falsification that better aligned those photos with the text of their report. These captions are FALSE.
Status: NewsTalk did not publish a correction within 72 hours of making the false claim.