As the old saying goes, a photo can say a thousand things. But what it can't say is how it can be used to say one thing, but really be another thing. And that's just how The New York Times used it.
In the Oct. 9 issue of the Times, an article by Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss examined the events in a decade-and-a-half-long legal battle between a left-wing environmental group, supposedly representing the people of Ecuador, and Chevron over pollution allegedly left behind by Texaco.
However, the Times took liberty with a photo of "murky" polluted water with its Oct. 9 story, one that could lead a reader to Chevron is really at fault for pollution in Ecuador. (h/t Carter Wood, ShopFloor.org) The photograph, taken for the Times by Moises Saman (for photo see here), was captioned "a pool of oil in Lago Agrio, an Ecuadorean town in the Amazon where Texaco left contamination."
However, as blogger Carter Wood, at ShopFloor.org, the blog of the National Association of Manufacturer, revealed - this was a case of the Times attempting to mislead its readers.
"So the Times has illustrated a story about charges of pollution against Chevron with a photo of an oil pit (and flare-offs) created by Petroecuador," Wood wrote on Oct. 10. "And doesn't bother to tell the readers what they are seeing in the paper has nothing to do with Chevron."
As Wood explained, this is a common trick of activists, and the Times played right along with it.
"The activists use the trick all the time, pointing to unrelated pollution and claiming Chevron is to blame, but shouldn't the Times have higher standards?" Wood wrote. "The truth isn't THAT murky."
The story itself by Romero and Krauss examined the future of the case after an undercover video revealed a $3-million bribe scheme in $27-billion suit against the U.S. oil giant.
The Ecuadorean judge in question, Juan Núñez, had recused himself after he appeared in the recordings discussing the case and potential damages. But since then he has been put back on the case and taken back off, which puts the future of the suit in question.