Date of Complaint: 12th June 2018
Reason for Complaint: Questioning whether Kareem Shaheen visited Khan Sheikhoun like he claimed
Dear Paul Chadwick,
The issue I am writing to you about is a story that The Guardian online carried on the 6th April 2017 entitled; “The dead were wherever you looked’: inside Syrian town after gas attack”
The author of the piece was a Kareem Shaheen whom I’ve made contact with online before submitting this compliant.
The issue around the story is that I don’t believe there is any evidence that Kareem actually attended the scene he claims to be have broadcast from. There is not a picture of him in the town to be found anywhere online and no video evidence of him being there. I found that bizarre right away as what reporter goes to a scene, especially one of huge significance as Khan Sheikhoun was at that time, and fails to carry out an on camera report? Why would a reporter avoid appearing on camera? That is the essence behind appearing on camera. It is to relay to your viewers that you are where you say you are and thereof close to the story. It lends credibility to a report and a reporter. Instead what Kareem offers is some video footage which he narrates over. Video footage that could have been recorded by anybody. I ask again, why go to a town that is at the centre of global news stories, be the only western journalist to have (allegedly) been there and not have any visual evidence that you were actually there?
I had then noticed quite a few people discussing this online over the preceding 20 or so months and many of them connected with Kareem on Twitter and asked him why he didn’t appear on camera. As far as I know he avoided answering those I am aware of so I thought I would try and a few weeks back made contact on Twitter.
Here is that exchange:
He ceased all communications after that.
As a first stage complaint I’d appreciate it if you could look into this story a little and advise me what, if any, evidence the Guardian has that Kareem actually visited Khan Sheikhoun when he alleges to have reported from there. Bear in mind that this town was controlled by al-Qaeda affiliate HTS who are designated terrorists by the UN. The area was that dangerous that the OPCW was unable to send their teams there to investigate the chemical weapons usage. Yet somehow Kareem managed to get there and back safely without a shred of proof he was there.
It looks suspicious and whilst I appreciate the passage of time since publication it’s still a concern that lingers and I’d like to bring some clarity to the matter.
I received an automated acknowledgement a few minutes later. The text of which is really small so I have supplied a screenshot of the email and a cut and paste of the text for ease of reading.
Thank you for your email. Please excuse the automated response: we use it so that you have confirmation that the Guardian readers’ editor’s office has received your email.
If you are requesting a correction or making a comment or complaint, please send a link or details of where you saw the story, eg date, page number, digital device.
If you are missing a section of your copy of the Guardian or Observer, please call our Missing Sections number on 0800 839 100.
This office is not involved in commissioning articles. For article submissions or any other queries, please see here – http://gu.com/p/2j9c3
If your email concerns an article in the Observer, please forward your *original* email to: email@example.com
We can’t reply to every email, but we do aim to read them all. If you have sent a correction request we will not usually send you a response unless the article directly affects you. Corrections that are printed in the paper are available online: http://bit.ly/1AQB25U
Guardian readers’ editor’s office
Having heard nothing back I emailed the “Reader’s Editor” again on the 22 June 2019 for an update.
Again, a few moments later I received the same automated response.