I am writing on behalf of the news agency Ruptly to highlight some extremely concerning aspects regarding your article:
- In contravention of accepted journalistic practice, there is no record of anyone from the New York Times contacting Ruptly to establish the facts or elicit comment for this story prior to publication. If any attempt was made to contact Ruptly can you please clarify to whom the request was made and when.
- Your headline is factually incorrect. You call the video ‘a story too good to check out’. In fact, several news outlets did bother to check out the story and confirm its veracity. Ruptly informed them, and would have informed you, that the video was taken from a nearly five-hour livestream of the event. Livestreams cannot be manipulated. Indeed, the image you used in the article explicitly shows it was shot at 2.58.17 during the livestream. It was filmed by our Spanish field producer, with assistance from our local stringer, an American journalist.
- At no point in your article do you prove that the footage was false, manipulated or that the incident didn’t happen - yet you call it disinformation. This is baseless opinion, not fact, and should have been labelled as such.
- Your article alleges that the story in question contains ‘a kernel of truth’. Presumably therefore it also contains untruths. Please clarify what you believe these to be.
- The prevalence of the word ‘appear’ in the article (five instances) suggests the authors have no evidence for many of the assertions made, but are relying on unsupported conjecture and speculation to try to prove a non-existent case and pursue an obvious agenda.
- You claim that ‘Ruptly instead made the Bible burning a focus of its protest coverage that night.’ Again untrue, as a simple Twitter search would have shown. This video was one of several different packages released to clients. Others include this one:https://twitter.com/Ruptly/status/1287809981333549057?s=20, which as of now has been seen by over 5 million viewers. Is this also disinformation?
- In fact, since May 20, Ruptly has released 52 video packages of the Oregon protests. Between July 26 and 31 and on August 1, 2 and 11, Ruptly also produced a total of 31 hours of live-streamed content. It is very telling that the NYT chose to highlight this one 88-second package and use it to make a series of wild and unproven claims about a campaign of disinformation.
- The article then goes on to imply a supposed collusion between Ruptly and a variety of Russian and American state actors, Twitter users, spies and international conspiracists - without a shred of evidence to back up any of these claims. The only person you appear to have spoken to in connection with this alleged collusion is Ian Miles Cheong - and only a few sentences later write that he ‘does not appear to be in any way complicit’. This is because there was nothing to be complicit with.
- Further, in regards to accusations of disinformation, Ruptly has its own Verification Unit through which it verifies every piece of content it publishes. It is one of the few international news agencies that does this. It is the only news agency that operates with complete transparency about the tools and processes it uses to ensure that the footage it distributes is 100 per cent accurate. This is freely available to all our clients - including some of the world’s most respected broadcasters.
- The article also impugns Ruptly because its content was amplified by others. As you know, no media outlet is responsible for those who disseminate, exaggerate or misinterpret its coverage. Indeed, a recent piece in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/opinion/tom-cotton-protests-military.html) was widely condemned as racist and inflammatory but was also widely shared by many of the groups you accuse Ruptly of colluding with. Did the New York Times collude with them? By your own definition, this would make you an agent of racist propaganda.
This entire article is a prime example of the type of substandard journalism the New York Times purports to oppose. It conflates several unconnected issues, contains unfounded allegations and, when unable to back up its claims, resorts to woolly and simpering language to disguise an absence of detail or any journalistic rigor.
It is a shockingly dishonest report and we demand the immediate retraction of false allegations and a proper right of reply.
For a supposed paper of record, the New York Times now needs to apply some of the basic standards it so high-handedly demands of others.
Ruptly Press Office.
UPDATE: As of 20 July 2021, The New York Times has not responded to the above letter or provided any evidence to back up their misleading claims.