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Questions of racism in hurricane photo captions; Yahoo responds

RAW STORY

A French news agency has yanked a photograph surrounding the New Orleans hurricane that raised questions of racism, RAW STORY has learned.

The photograph by Agence France Presse shows two white hurricane survivors carrying food as they wade through flood waters. The caption reads, "Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana."

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The second, by the Associated Press, shows a black man, who also carries food. The caption reads, "A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage..."

Critics, including Salon.com, focused on the words "finding" and "looting."

In a statement, Yahoo News says AFP asked them to pull the photos, and they have complied: "Since the controversy began, the supplier of one of the photos AFP has asked all its clients to remove the photo from their databases. Yahoo! News has complied with the AFP request."

Some, defending the captions, note that the photographs are from two separate agencies, and say that they are not necessarily racist in nature.

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YAHOO NEWS STATEMENT:

To Yahoo! News readers:

News photos are an especially popular section of Yahoo! News. In part, this is because we present thousands of news photos from some of the leading news services, including The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Press. To make this volume of photos available in a timely manner, we present the photos and their captions as written, edited and distributed by the news services with no additional editing at Yahoo! News.

In recent days, a number of readers of Yahoo! News have commented on differences in the language in two Hurricane Katrina-related photo captions (from two news services). Since the controversy began, the supplier of one of the photos AFP has asked all its clients to remove the photo from their databases. Yahoo! News has complied with the AFP request.

Yahoo! News regrets that these photos and captions, viewed together, may have suggested a racial bias on our part. We remain committed to bringing our readers the full collection of photos as transmitted by our wire service partners.

Neil Budde General Manager Yahoo! News

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Originally published on Friday September 2, 2005.

 


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