A Chatterbox tipster thought he’d caught the Associated Press red-handed this morning when he saw a photograph inside the New York Times’ A section over the caption, “Deadline near on disarming Kosovo Albanians.” The photo depicted, in shadow, a British soldier at an arms depot in Luzan examining a Kalashnikov rifle that had been turned in by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Behind the soldier was a wall illuminated by light streaming in from a window, and plainly visible on that wall was the graffito, “UCK NATO.” Surely, Chatterbox reasoned, some anonymous Kosovar had expressed contempt for the peace agreement that required him to turn in his rifle, using the language of his oppressors. And just as surely, the “F” had been whited out by some enterprising photo editor in order to render it publishable in a family newspaper.
But in discussing the matter with the AP and the New York Times (both of which want you to know they have a firm policy against doctoring photographs), Chatterbox learned that UCK is actually the Albanian abbreviation for “Kosovo Liberation Army” (if you must know, it stands for Ushtrise Clirimtare te Kosoves). In other words, the photo wasn’t doctored; Chatterbox just ucked up.