To address its coverage of the attack on a hospital in Gaza, which is thought to have killed hundreds of people, The New York Times made the extremely rare decision to print a stand-alone editors’ note.
On October 17, The Times first the news of the explosion at the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City.
The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by the terrorist organization Hamas, claimed the mass casualty incident was the result of an Israeli bombardment at the time.
The Times and other major media outlets covered this information at the time as though it were true.
Israel denied initiating the strike within hours of the event.
They claimed that an errant missile fired by the Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad was the cause of the explosion.
Since then, the United States and France have claimed that early intelligence backs up Israel’s account of what happened.
The Times now states that in its first reporting on the incident, it “relied too heavily on claims by Hamas”:
“The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast. However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified. The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was.” a statement from the Times read.
“Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified,” it continued.