A 13 year-old boy in Finland might have a promising career as a fact checker ahead of him.
Last week he revealed that the image of a submarine used by state-owned Russian TV network Rossiya (RTR) to illustrate a story about a Russian submarine voyage to the arctic was in fact from the film Titanic. The image was then distributed by Reuters, which meant it spread to news outlets in countries around the world. That's the danger of picking up reports from other media without doing independent verification. It's something wire services constantly struggle with, and occasionally they get bit.
"I was looking at the photo of the Russian sub expedition and I noticed immediately that there was something familiar about the picture," Waltteri Seretin, the Finnish boy, told a Finnish paper. "I checked it with my DVD and there it was right there in the beginning of the movie: exactly the same image of the submer-sibles approaching the ship."
Here's the official statement from Reuters, and a correction from MSNBC.com below. We have not seen other corrections as of now, which is troubling to say the least.
On August 2, 2007 in a TV story about two Russian submersibles planting a flag on the seabed under the North Pole, we used file shots of MIR submersibles as part of this story.
Reuters mistakenly identified this file footage as originating from the Arctic, and not the North Atlantic where the footage was shot.
This footage was taken during the search for the Titanic and copyright is held by Russian State broadcaster RTR.
This location error was corrected as soon as it was brought to our attention. A still image of the submersibles was also taken from the footage and put out on the Reuters photo wire. The caption has been corrected.
This correction was published on MSNBC.com:
In an Aug. 2 story about Russia planting a flag at the bottom of the North Pole, Reuters provided a photo with a caption identifying a submersible as participating in the expedition. Reuters later corrected that to say the image was of a similar submersible used in the search for the Titanic.
UPDATE August 15: Media watchdog AIM issued a press release earlier today calling for NBC News to issue an on air correction for its use of the erroneous submarine image. We're told that the Nightly News broadcast this evening did include an on air correction delivered by anchor Brian Williams. We couldn't locate the video on their site. Anyone have a link to share?