BuzzFeed Reported People Are Fleeing the Area Outside Mosul: Here’s More Information

There is a saying in the news industry: “When your mother tells you she loves you, check your sources.”

And although this directive is frequently disregarded, often with embarrassing consequences, nevertheless it is an important guiding principle for journalists.

The rule came to mind when BuzzFeed news correspondent Mike Giglio reported that Iraqis are fleeing areas outside the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul. Currently, Iraqi forces are advancing toward Mosul in a campaign to retake it. As a result, people are fleeing to escape the ensuing battles with Islamic State, according to the report.

Is it true? In all likelihood yes, although the news media has fallen before for false information, as Thought Front uncovered in the past.

So I checked with another source: someone in Mosul. I contacted Mosul Eye, an activist group reporting from the city, whom I have contacted in the past.

mosul eye convo

When asking Mosul Eye, I erroneously thought that BuzzFeed reported that people were fleeing Mosul. The font of my misunderstanding was that I first saw the item when another BuzzFeed contributor, Brandon Wall, posted to Twitter, “Residents have begun fleeing Mosul.” I would add that the BuzzFeed url also misstates the facts:

“Qaiyyara and Shirqat but not Mosul,” said Mosul Eye in response to my inquiry.

They added, “They should name the cites [sic], Mosul is one part of Nineveh Provence [sic], as well as Qaiyyara and Shirqat and many other cites [sic].”

BuzzFeed did mention Qaiyyara deep into the body of the text, but made no mention of Shirqat.

It bears noting that Mosul Eye faced criticism in the past over its reliability, mainly around their sensational report that ISIS issued a fatwa to euthanize children with Down’s syndrome that included no hard evidence. Even they acknowledged that their reporting in general should include more evidence, but that the situation on the ground in Mosul makes it nigh impossible.

Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe them on this matter. At the very least, I think we can confirm that people are fleeing Qaiyyara, given that BuzzFeed and Mosul Eye both stated it as fact.