Sunday Times panned for Call of Duty pic in hostage tragedy report

Last week, news emerged of a tragic failed attempt to rescue Western hostages being held in Nigeria. The raid was a joint effort between Nigerian forces and elite commandos in Britain’s Special Boat Service (SBS) and Royal Marines. UK Prime Minister David Cameron later confirmed that Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara had apparently been “murdered by their captors before they could be rescued”.

Unsurprisingly, there was immediate global media coverage of the tragedy, but one report in particular was called out for its poor judgement in the aftermath of the events. As The Media Blog spotted, The Sunday Times chose to illustrate its article on the mission with a character who will be familiar to fans of the phenomenally popular Call Of Duty series.

John ‘Soap’ MacTavish, who features in CoD’s Modern Warfare titles, can be clearly seen as the main focus of the article’s illustrations. Bizarrely, the character’s identity has been partially obscured with a black bar over his eyes, implying a need to protect his anonymity.

It’s unclear whether this was a simple mistake or if the image was used knowingly (perhaps with the intention of generically depicting a member of the special forces, without compromising the identity of any individuals), but as The Media Blog pointed out, “using images from a popular video game seems a little frivolous for a story of this gravity”.

It’s not the first time British media have been caught out like this. In September last year, we reported that ITV News had used in-game footage from the PC title ArmA II in a documentary on links between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.

Image via The Media Blog

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