No, This Beach Photo Doesn’t Prove The Media Is Lying

Have you seen this image mashup being cited as evidence that you should wake up because “the media” is lying to you?

Newsbreak.com is an aggregator. Its business model is scraping stories off of various places on the Internet and reposting them on its own site.

I found a page on newsbreak.com with the headline “Los Angeles County records highest daily death toll,” but the story says nothing at all about opening beaches, and it uses a completely different picture.

https://www.newsbreak.com/news/0OnOmZmb/los-angeles-county-records-highest-daily-death-toll

I doubt any actual journalists work at newsbreak.com — the website’s business model is to collect and repackage news from elsewhere (presumably with their permission). They don’t cover stories themselves.

Here’s the NY Post story, which credits the photo to Sam Greenwood / Getty Images.

https://nypost.com/2020/04/18/hundreds-flood-florida-beach-as-florida-reopens-some-parks/

Getty is in business of selling pictures to websites like newsbreak.com and the NY Post that don’t have their own photographers all around the world where news is likely to happen, but still want a steady stream of current, newsworthy images to attract clicks. (Local photographers sell their pictures to a distributor that gives its customers the rights to republish the photos in their own coverage.)

I’m guessing that the reason I can’t find the Getty beach photo on the newsbreak.com site is that someone caught the error and replaced it with a more relevant image. (The newsbreak.com story about the death toll in Los Angeles doesn’t mention beaches at all. Nobody who clicked the link and read the LA story would think that a Florida picture would have anything to do with the actual news item.)

I’ve certainly made mistakes in my life, and I hope there aren’t people out there using every one of my mistakes to push a conspiracy theory.

On the newsbreak.com web page that has the “Los Angeles County records highest d…” headline, if you click the link “Read Full Story,” that will take you to the NBCNews website:

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/live-blog/coronavirus-live-updates-advisers-warn-trump-about-risk-reopening-quickly-n1186791/ncrd1187101#blogHeader

That page is a blog that was updated during the day April 18. It features a very brief item, timestamped 6:12pm, with no pictures, with the headline “Los Angeles County records highest daily death toll.” (That’s the text that newsbreak,com republished on its site.)

Above that item is the last item posted on the 18th, time-stamped 10:33pm, which doesn’t appear to have a headline; the text-only story begins “This weekend marked the beginning of several states easing restrictions related to the outbreak, which continues to take an unprecedented number of lives. Residents in Florida and other states returned to the beach Saturday despite an increase in COVID-19 deaths and infections.”

An image of Floridians on the beach would go perfectly well with a story that mentions residents of Florida returned to the beach.

But the newsbreak.com mismatch between the legitimate Florida picture and the legitimate LA story is being used to convince people that “the media” are conspiring to conceal the truth.

I doubt it was a journalist who wrote the content-mashup program that put the Florida image with the LA story. Newsbreak.com lets you type in your zip code or city name, and then serves you local stories from your area. When you’re dealing with that much content, nobody is going to twirl their mustache and take the time to pick this picture to go with that story, with the express intention of misleading true Americans who use Facebook.

It’s entirely possible that the problem was caused by Facebook, which might have grabbed the wrong image when someone tried sharing the story using the NewsBreak app (which I’ve never tried).

Last night when I told someone on Facebook that I didn’t think these two images prove that anybody was trying to tell a deliberate lie or that the news in general is fake, I was informed (in all caps) that was my *OPINION*, and that I was being a troll.