Leading news agency the Associated Press found itself in hot waters following its plans to sell an image of desperate migrants as an NFT this week. The photo that was planned to auction off showed migrants in bright orange life jackets huddled in an overcrowded boat in the Mediterranean Sea as it headed for safety, according to the Guardian.
A few days back Associated Press tweeted a now-deleted post promoting the NFT, inviting a backlash from several journalists and media workers as well as other activists, and behavioral scientist, Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno who initially posted the original AP’s tweet said, “That sure looked a whole lot like an attempt to make money off the plight of desperate migrants.”
Although the AP’s NFT marketplace is still up, the publication has since apologized. Acknowledging that the move was a poor choice, Lauren Easton, the global director of media relations and corporate communications at the Associated Press stated,
“This was a poor choice of imagery for an NFT. It has not and will not be put up for auction. The tweet promoting it was also deleted. AP’s NFT marketplace is a very early pilot program, and we are immediately reviewing our efforts. As a not-for-profit, AP’s mission is to inform the world with accurate, unbiased journalism.”
That being said, it has sparked debates about ethics in photojournalism. Is it appropriate to make money on photos that show human suffering? Even though AP resorted to making amends by deleting the post, some Twitter users were skeptical and even questioned the platform’s credibility.
Associated Press’s act raised credibility issue
One such user being writer and columnist Dan Gilmour called AP’s deleted post a “Wildly WTF Tweet” and issued a sarcastic “Thank you”. Gilmour then asked the platform to delete its NFT Marketplace to avoid risking serious damage to their reputation by moving into what he termed as a “sleaze-ridden arena that encourages the worst kind of speculation.”
As reported previously by TronWeekly, on January 10, 2022, Associated Press announced the debut of its native NFT marketplace where “collectors” can buy select photos and videos from its archive of modern and historic photojournalism in early 2022. The platform, which was made in collaboration with blockchain provider Xooa, was and was slated to go live on 31st January.