Questions for Mirror over use of 2009 picture of crying US child for front page British poverty story

The Daily Mirror was today facing questions over a front page photograph of a young girl crying in the United States in 2009 published under the headline, "Britain, 2014".

According to blogger Dan Barker, the photo was uploaded on to Flickr in 2009 and sold to the Mirror by Getty Images. It apparently shows a young girl called Anne who was upset because she lost an earthworm who she had befriended.

On page two, meanwhile, the Mirror issued a clarification on a photograph used on the front page of Monday's paper, which it wrongly claimed showed a giant rat in Liverpool. It emerged yesterday that the photograph had been taken a year ago in North London.

Today, the paper was facing new questions over the suitability of the 2009 photograph, which appeared under the headline: “Britain, 2014. We’re the sixth largest economy in the world. We have more millionaires than ever before… So why have we handed out ONE MILLION food parcels?”

The photograph looks to have first appeared on the Flickr account of Lauren Rosenbaum.

Barker said the use of the photo raises a number of questions:

  • Does it matter that the photo is not really a starving child?
  • Does it matter that the photo wasn’t even taken in the UK?
  • Is there an ethical issue in buying a stock photo of a child – not in poverty – and using it to illustrate poverty?
  • Does it matter that the headline begins “Britain, 2014″, but the photo is actually “USA, 2009″?

The caption on the original photo, from November 2009, said: “heartbreak… we went to the park and anne found an earthworm. she promptly named in 'flower', the most beautiful name in the world (da most bootifull name in da world).

“i convinced her to let me babysit flower, while she played. we then decided to put flower in the grass, so she could have a nap, and then it was time to go we would find flower and bring her home, to live in our garden.

“only flower didn’t nap, she scootched away, and anne cried for the next 25 minutes.”

Meanwhile, overleaf, the paper printed a clarification on Monday’s front page photograph saying: “We would like to point out that the picture of a giant rat in Monday’s paper was actually taken in North London, not Merseyside, last year. We were given incorrect information and apologise for the confusion.”

On the giant rat story, a Trinity Mirror spokesman told Press Gazette the newspapers had been "deceived" about where the photograph had come from.

Trinity Mirror declined to comment on the use of today's front page photograph.

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