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Thanks to some eagle eye readers, Credit Union Times recently learned that it published phony pictures of the tsunami disaster, and we’re here to say sorry. Having made the decision to publish them, it’s our fault first and foremost -namely my fault. The story behind the photos, published on page 6 of the Jan. 26 issue, is worth telling. Credit Union Times received the pictures from the World Council of Credit Unions. With WOCCU being a very reputable organization and probably the most logical to have such shots given its intimate knowledge of CUs impacted by the tsunami, the source was certainly reliable and credible. Over the years WOCCU has contributed both great photos and information for stories in Credit Union Times, and there’s been no reason to doubt them. Credit Union Times is certainly a believer in WOCCU’s professionalism. However, given the drama of some of the pictures and the obvious peril the picture taker would have been in, we did contact WOCCU to confirm authenticity. We were told that the photos to the best of their knowledge were authentic, however their top-notch PR person, Kristen Johnston, who could likely give the best perspective was at a conference in California and was unable to get back to us. It was deadline day, and we decided to go forward with them. Shortly after publication, a well-known retired credit union CEO and a current CEO e-mailed us about the problem. Kudos to them for being on the ball. They pointed us to the Snopes Web site (www.snopes.com), which specializes in explaining urban legends, warning of scams, snuffing out myths, and explaining dubious photographs such as the ones we published. In fact if you follow the following link, (http://www.snopes.com/photos/tsunami/tsunami1.asp) you will find some of the phony tsunami pictures. It’s not that the photos are phony – they are real. However they are from what’s called a tidal bore that occurred in China in 2002, which can be predicted and apparently draws crowds. They are not of the 2004 tsunami. Johnston of WOCCU said her heart dropped when she heard the photos, which WOCCU received from one of its board members, were not of the tsunami and is doing all she can to let people know of the problem and more importantly get some real photos in the hands of Credit Union Times and others. To their credit, WOCCU quickly sent Credit Union Times some authentic pictures (shown here). They are the real thing and depict the all too real devastation of the tsunami. We say thank you to WOCCU for being on top of the problem, and sorry to our readers – we were duped! [email protected]

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