Image marking LGBTQ mass shooting misrepresented as newspaper cover

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Posts on social media are sharing an image that appears to show the New York Times front page from November 20, 2022, following a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the US state of Colorado. But the bullet-riddled rainbow was not printed by the newspaper, it was painted by an independent artist.

"What an incredibly powerful front page from @nytimes," a November 21 tweet says, sharing the image of a rainbow perforated by five bullets filling the entire front page of the newspaper.

A screenshot of a tweet taken on November 28, 2022

The image circulated on Twitter and Instagram, following the mass shooting that killed five people at Club Q, a long-established LGBTQ venue inColorado Springs, in the late hours of Saturday, November 19.

The attack was the deadliest on the LGBTQ community in the United States since a 2016 mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida that claimed 49 lives.

Some social media users also shared the cover art to criticize the newspaper's coverage of transgender issues -- articles contested by LGBTQ advocacy groups -- including in tweets here and here.

But the cover shown online is an art piece.

A reverse image search found that the image was originally posted on Instagram, by artist Sho Shibuya, who specializes in paintings that are overlaid on top of New York Times (NYT) front pages.

"In the beginning, I just wanted to capture everyday moments visually, like a diary. Now, if strange or significant things happen, I try to capture those as well, to raise awareness and hopefully to start a conversation," Shibuya said of his inspiration to use the covers as a canvas for his art in an interview with Vice in 2020.

AFP contacted the artist for a comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

NYT spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha confirmed to AFP that the "image was not published by The New York Times."

The real NYT front page from November 20 did not have a headline about the mass shooting. The Times did cover the story on its November 21 front page, here.

Screenshot of the November 20, 2022 front page of the New York Times
Screenshot of the November 21, 2022 front page of the New York Times



AFP also fact-checked images falsely said to show the Colorado nightclub shooter.