Reuters Captions on Balloons from Gaza Missing the Basics

Several photo captions from Reuters Friday fail to make clear that balloons sent from Gaza into Israel were carrying incendiary devices. Multiple Oct. 19 captions do not at all mention that the pictured balloons are carrying incendiary devices and were launched from Gaza in order to start fires on Israeli territory. Without this key basic information, uninformed news consumers could easily (and wrongly) conclude that these harmless balloons floated off from some kind of festival or children’s event on either side of the border.

Balloons can be seen in a field near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip as Palestinians protest on the Gaza side of the border, Israel October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli soldiers stand next to balloons in a field near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip as Palestinians protest on the Gaza side of the border, Israel October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Balloons can be seen over the Israel-Gaza border as Palestinians protest on the Gaza side of the border, Israel October 19, 2018 REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Another caption cryptically refers to balloons attached to “a device.”

Balloons connected to a device can be seen over the Israel-Gaza border as Palestinians protest on the Gaza side of the border, Israel October 19, 2018 REUTERS/Amir Cohen

A separate Reuters caption from the same day does correctly note that the balloons are carrying flammable material and that they were launched by Palestinians towards Israel.

Balloons carrying flammable material are attached to a cutout of a drone as they are flown by Palestinian demonstrators to be sent to the Israeli side, during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza and demanding the right to return to their homeland, in the southern Gaza Strip October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Reuters declined to amend the inadequate captions, maintaining that brevity was the primary objective.