Multiple news outlets sought to distance themselves from freelance photojournalists previously employed by the outlets, amid allegations that the Gaza-based reporters were present during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.
A pro-Israel watchdog group Honest Reporting published an article that claimed that the work of several photojournalists prompted “ethical questions,” about how much information they had ahead of the attack, especially considering their working ties to Western outlets. The outlets in question included CNN, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and Reuters.
The outlets responded to the claims with various statements, distancing themselves from the work of the Gaza-based freelancers.
“The accusation that anyone at The New York Times had advance knowledge of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is untrue and outrageous,” the Times said in a statement. “It is reckless to make such allegations, putting our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza at risk.”
“The advocacy group Honest Reporting has made vague allegations about several freelance photojournalists working in Gaza, including Yousef Masoud,” the statement continued. “Though Yousef was not working for The Times on the day of the attack, he has since done important work for us. There is no evidence for Honest Reporting’s insinuations.”
“We are gravely concerned that unsupported accusations and threats to freelancers endangers them and undermines work that serves the public interest,” the Times’ statement concluded.
The AP said the outlet had “no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they happened.”
“We are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, who had been an occasional freelancer for AP and other international news organizations in Gaza,” said the AP.
According to Mediaite, newly minted CNN CEO Mark Thompson addressed the claims in a Thursday morning editorial call, saying it is “unfortunate news.”
“We’ve discovered that a stringer may have been there during the attack with Hamas on Oct 7. CNN had no prior knowledge of the attack,” Thompson continued.
Reuters also released a statement saying that the outlet “categorically denies that it had prior knowledge of the attack or that we embedded journalists with Hamas on October 7.”
The outlet said that they “acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of October 7, with whom it did not have a prior relationship.”
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