Graphic error.

The complainant, Jack Chivo, noted that a map of the Middle East in a story about missile attacks on Syria named neighbouring countries but not Israel. He thought this was a deliberate decision and reflected a strong anti-Israel bias. In fact, it was the result of bad cropping and changing the proportions of a graphic accompanying the story on the landing page of


You wrote to complain about an article concerning a missile attack on northern Syria. Accompanying the story was a map of the region which you said showed the neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. You thought it was “another example of your crude anti-Israel propaganda, which appears to have no limitations!!” because there was a blank space at the border of Syria where Israel is located. It was not named on the map “as the State of Israel wouldn't exist!” You wondered if this graphic “originated in Gaza or Tehran.”

You accused the programmer of deliberately removing Israel’s name. You dismissed the explanation that the original graphic was cropped and inadvertently left out Israel based on your long career editing newspapers, and therefore you “know a lot about cropping of a photo or an image.”

You pointed out that the graphic was corrected but there was no indication that it had been.


The Executive Director of CBC News, Tracy Seeley, replied to your concern. She explained that one version of the map did not originally include the word “Israel” because of the technical restrictions of the original graphic and the need to crop it:

The crop on one of our maps resulted in exclusion of the word Israel because the dimension restrictions for these crops are quite rectangular. So to include Israel would have required cutting out the map's title. In the context of this story, the most important location to illustrate in the rectangular crops was the specific spot where the strikes landed in Syria. We have now re-sized the map and added the word Israel.


I have no reason to doubt Ms. Seeley’s explanation. The assumption that there is some grand design is based on no evidence, nor is it borne out by years of reviews by me and all my predecessors. I asked Ms. Seeley to go back and check previous versions of the story. What it revealed was that the main graphic in the middle of the story always had the word “Israel” on it. The same map was also used in a different way, and that is the one where the word was not visible - that version was a rectangular version of the graphic which appeared on the homepage beside the text you would click on to view the entire story. Ms. Seeley acknowledged the writer and the senior editor should have caught the problem with the image. She said they would rarely use a map in this way, and this reinforced why. The story is no longer available on the homepage, but I have seen the various versions of the graphic.

You say that the map in the main body of the story also did not have the word - and that it was switched with no acknowledgement. I fully appreciate that is what you saw. I have seen the cached material - there were Google maps used initially - and the large version clearly shows the designation “Israel” in the appropriate place. The Google map was later replaced with the version you see now.


Esther Enkin
CBC Ombudsman