The Guardian has issued a mea culpa for falsely suggesting that a Sputnik photo had been doctored to incite hatred toward Muslims – almost four months after being proven wrong.
“In an episode of Fake or for real? published on 19 April, we suggested that a photo that went viral during the Notre Dame fire had been doctored,” the newspaper wrote in an Instagram story Monday.
“We have been contacted by the copyright owner of the photo, Sputnik France, and accept that it had not been doctored; we apologise for suggesting otherwise.”
A photo from Sputnik France’s Facebook live coverage of the Notre Dame fire, which showed two men smiling in front of the burning cathedral, was branded “fake” on The Guardian’s ‘Fake or for Real’ Instagram series.
The newspaper suggested that the photo had been altered in a bid to make it look like Muslims were celebrating the tragedy (despite the fact that the photo pulled from Sputnik’s Facebook did not contain any comments as to the men’s background whatsoever).
After the grievous accusations surfaced in the media, Sputnik France provided proof that the photo had not been doctored by releasing full metadata where anyone could see how and when it was taken.
In an AFP fact-check, the two men from the photo were revealed to be architecture students and said to have been shocked by the Notre Dame fire.
Several news outlets have since updated their stories.