Reuters Responds: Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes?

HonestReporting’s critique of Reuters’ 2007 calendar (a selection of images below) generated a deluge of e-mails to the organization’s PR staff. Reuters was courteous enough to issue a speedy response. Many of you received personal replies from staff in the Reuters Press Office. Reuters’ standard reply produces more questions than answers.

Click this selection of images to view the entire calendar

According to Eileen Wise, Reuters’ Head of Global PR for Editorial and Media, the calendar images:

were chosen for their photographic and visual effect and not for any political purpose. In putting this calendar together we sought to portray the theme ‘Eyes on the World,’ which is meant to look back at events and issues that marked 2006, concentrating on pictures with eyes.

We invite Reuters and our subscribers to take a second look at the calendar. Using our own artistic license, we were only able to find four photos that could be themed as “pictures with eyes” and perhaps two more with a tenuous link. How can pictures of farming or even the back of a bodybuilder have anything to do with eyes? How do cranberry fields and sunflower crops represent “events and issues that marked 2006”? Is Eileen Wise looking at the same calendar?

The majority of the calendar’s 15 images have no connection to this theme whatsoever – they contain no eyes and no connection to events that marked 2006. Were the marketing staff of Reuters incapable of finding a dozen relevant images from the organization’s huge archive? Is Reuters trying to pull the wool over our own eyes?

Furthermore, Reuters claims that some of the images are:

more political in nature than others, including the front cover of a woman voting in Iraq and one of the G8 summit meeting. We understand that some people viewing the calendar find that the photograph of the Palestinian militant appears to be the most political…

The photos of the Iraqi woman and the G8 meeting, in fact, contain no political commentary at all. The only image that does is that of the Palestinian. Reuters dodges the key question – how did this image come to be used and why did it include the only caption containing a negative and politicized message?

Could not Reuters have found something more ‘positive’ in keeping with the tone of the rest of the calendar, even, for example, depicting Palestinians voting in their own election?

Click here to write to Reuters directly, refocusing on the following questions:

  • Does the organization accept that the July photo and caption stand alone as a negatively politicized statement in contrast to the rest of the calendar?
  • This being the case, will Reuters acknowledge failings on the part of those responsible for producing the calendar?
  • As in the case of the “Fauxtography” scandal, which led to the firing of photographer Adnan Hajj, will Reuters take similar action against those responsible to ensure that further incidents such as this will not reoccur?


Institutionalized bias at Reuters is not new. In addition to countless incidents of quality problems in Reuters’ reporting, HonestReporting has previously demonstrated a clear bias in the organization’s headlines, while new editor-in-chief David Schlesinger, in his former position as global managing editor, openly acknowledged that Arab intimidation influences Reuters’ news coverage.

Can Reuters offer a more substantial and credible response to these very serious issues? We invite David Schlesinger to contact us directly so that we can share his response directly with our readers.