The New York Times published an editor’s note Monday admitting mistteps in its coverage of a Gaza hospital blast, saying the paper “relied too heavily on claims by Hamas” in its initial reporting.
The deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17 quickly generated headlines, including from the Times, citing Palestinian sources who blamed an Israeli airstrike. The Times continued to update its headline as further information came to light about a misfired rocket from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group inside Gaza.
In the editor’s note, the paper said “The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast.
“However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified.”
“The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was,” said the Times.
The note continued that “Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified.”
“Newsroom leaders continue to examine procedures around the biggest breaking news events — including for the use of the largest headlines in the digital report — to determine what additional safeguards may be warranted,” the note concluded.