Time Falls for Fake NYC Tornado Photo

statue of liberty tornado photo, time magazine, photojournalism, fake photo, NYC fake photo, 1976 tornado photo, gotham tornado, noaa, Steven  James Snyder, Craig Kanalley, Huffinghton Post, Diana Topan, Photography News,, photo news
September 17, 2010 /PN/ A photo of a tornado passing the Statue of Liberty in 1976 has gone viral on Twitter and was promoted by Time Magazine --during Thursday night's severe weather in New York-- under the headline "Gotham Tornado: Amazing Photo of Twister Passing Statue of Liberty."

"It's a freak event, a tornado in the heart of New York City," Steven James Snyder wrote on Time's blog. "The image above may be once in a lifetime."

Snyder was right about that. The image was a real, once-in-a-lifetime photo. The problem is ... it was taken in 1976, apparently lifted from the NOAA website.

The photo is documented in The Tornado Season of 1976 by Allen Pearson, Frederick Ostby Jr., and Larry Wilson, a book published in affiliation with the National Weather Service, being described as follows in the book: "The Statue of Liberty Tornado on 7 July 1976 as seen at a distance of about 2.5 miles from The Battery. Tornado formed near the Jersey City waterfront."

Time eventually removed the photo from their website and corrected the post: "CCorrection: This post previously featured a photo from 1976. Original story follows:

"This photo comes courtesy of Dave Carlson's Twitter feed - not sure if he took the photo, or merely found it online."

"Found it on Google searching NYC Tornado." Carlson, the original Tweeter of the photo, told Craig Kanalley from The Huffington Post. "Merely to mess with friends and when asked I told them it was fake. A friend told me TIME posted and I couldn't believe it. I wasn't asked by him if the photo was real or not.. I got off my train stop and saw I had tons of @ replies. Not my intention whatsoever. Pretty ridiculous and I hope he didn't get in any trouble for posting false news."


  1. Anonymous says

    Sad and hilarious at the same time. Who would have thought this could happen to a giant like Time?

    Anonymous says

    Who cares? With the speed of news these days, people make mistakes. It's not like this ran in print. I doubt a photo editor even looked at this photo before it went live.

    Anonymous says

    they used to have fact checkers in editorial rooms.... now the ones left are sensationalists

    David says

    Corrections often fail to catch up with stories.

    Whenever I receive a "wow" post, I check before passing it on. I'd say that 3/4 of the time, it leaves an incorrect impression, being untrue in at least some elements.

    This is true even of stories that are not making a political point.

    Anonymous says

    I had seen this photo 3 years ago on NOAA website and I was not surprised that people had mistaken this photo as the one from 3 month ago.

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