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Tipsheet

Did You See NYT's 'Tone-Deaf' Response to Death of American Journalist in Ukraine?

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

On Sunday, it was reported that American photographer and filmmaker Brent Renaud was shot dead in Ukraine. Reports came from AFP, citing a medic and witnesses. Another American journalist has been wounded, as has a Ukrainian. 

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From the report, with added emphasis:

Papers found on the American reporter’s body identified him as 50-year-old video documentary shooter Brent Renaud, of New York.

A New York Times identity card was among the papers, leading to reports he worked for the paper, but the US daily said he was not working for it at the time of his death.

The International Federation of Journalists identified the wounded reporter as American photographer Juan Arredondo.

A third victim, a Ukrainian who had been in the same car as the Americans, was also wounded, according to a medic at the scene.

AFP reporters in Irpin saw Ukrainian volunteer soldiers rush the body on a stretcher to a more secure location before laying it out on the ground for further identification.

Danylo Shapovalov, a surgeon volunteering for the Ukrainian territorial defence, said Renaud died instantly from a gunshot wound to his neck.

Ukrainian officials were quick to blame Russian forces for the shooting but the exact circumstances were unclear.

Not only did The New York Times issue a statement that Renaud was not employed with their outlet at the time of his death, and that he had not worked for them since 2015, they bent over backward to do so.

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"We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud's death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years," the statement began.

"Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago," itcontinued. 

New York Times Deputy Managing Editor Cliff Levy noted in a tweet of his own sharing the statement that "Brent was a talented photographer and filmmaker," though he added a "but" in there, to emphasize Renaud "was not on assignment" for the outlet.

Hanna Panreck highlighted for Fox News how people took notice of the tone, including fellow journalists, who highlighted the dangers freelance journalists face.

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Making a clear statement may be necessary for legal purposes, but as some pointed out, it struck the wrong tone. Some also pointed out that the outlet spent more words to distance themselves from Renaud than share condolences.

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Hours later, Levy also tweeted that Renaud was on assignment for TIME.

TIME also released a statement.

A Sunday report from Michael Schwirtz for The New York Times memorializing Renaud in greater detail also included the disclaimer that Renaud was not on assignment for their outlet at the time.v 

"Brent Renaud" and "Rest In Peace" were trending over Twitter on Sunday in light of the journalist's death. 

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