Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express and Loksatta published the photo in their print editions.
The big news last night was the successful rescue of the 41 workers stuck in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel, 17 days after they got trapped. The nightly return of the workers made headlines across media outlets and made it to the front pages of almost every newspaper in the country.
Even as photos of the rescue teams populated social media, three newspapers – Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express and Marathi daily Loksatta – made the bewildering choice to print an AI-generated photo of the operation in their editions today.
All three credited news agency PTI for the photograph.
While HT and Loksatta carried the photo in their inside pages, TNIE had a cropped version of it on page 1. TNIE carried the photograph on its website too.
We also spotted the photograph on News18’s website, crediting PTI.
The picture had also been tweeted by a handful of rightwing accounts on X, including the BJP’s Tajinder Bagga.
But the photo is, sadly, AI-generated. It was created by a group called “Exclusive Minds”. Ironically, its bio on X says it’s a “citizens’ collective fighting against misinformation and misleading content on social media”.
Alt News cofounder Mohammad Zubair had tweeted about it last night as well.
This isn’t the first time that media outlets have fallen prey to an AI-generated image, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Newslaundry earlier reported that Indian media outlets reported a purported “Pentagon fire” as breaking news on the basis of an AI-generated image. Read here.