UPDATED: Headline was AFP's, Not Yahoo's | Yahoo! News Smears Slain 'Wannabe Hero' in Paris Hostage-Taking

January 12th, 2015 5:37 PM

Update/correction (Jan 13, 2015; 11:05 a.m. Eastern): Chris Lefkow of the Agence France Presse emailed us to inform us that, unfortunately, the offensive headline was written not by Yahoo! News but in fact by AFP:

I wanted to point out that the headline was not written by Yahoo! News, but was -- unfortunately -- the headline on the original AFP story. I do not believe the AFP editor concerned in Paris meant any disrespect, but the end result was a headline that was clumsy and inappropriate.

It was immediately changed once it came to the attention of more senior editors at AFP.

I would be grateful if you could update your post to reflect the information provided here.


Chris Lefkow

AFP Chief Editor/North America

Earlier this afternoon, Yahoo! News editors slapped an incredibly disrespectful, smarmy headline on to a story from the Agence France Presse detailing what transpired Friday afternoon in the hostage-taking at Hyper Cacher, a kosher grocery in Paris.

"Wannabe hero killed in Paris hostage drama, survivor recalls," read the headline. Perhaps thinking better of the matter, editors later changed the headline to "Survivor recalls Paris hostage drama at Jewish supermarket." 

The "wannabe hero" seems to refer to a victim who actually attempted to fight back against hostage taker Amedy Coulibaly: 

Paris (AFP) - A woman who survived the attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris recalled on Monday the horror of the four-hour ordeal in which she saw a fellow hostage shot dead by jihadist Amedy Coulibaly.

She had watched as a man inside the kosher market in eastern Paris snatched a gun when Coulibaly put it down for a moment and tried to turn it on the attacker.

"A young man took the assault rifle and wanted to shoot him," but Coulibaly "was faster and he shot him in the throat. The poor young man just fell," the woman, who gave her name only as Sophie, told Europe 1 radio.

That doesn't sound like a wannabe hero, it sounds like a true, bona fide hero. Yes, this man wasn't successful in his attempt, but given the circumstances -- coming just days after the deadly Charlie Hebdo spree shooting -- he most likely felt he was good as dead anyway if he didn't act and that taking action might actually save other lives, if not his own as well.

Below you can see screen captures of the initial headline and its replacement.

Hat tip: Email tipster Luke Jaconetti, who alerted us to this this afternoon.