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NEW YORK — A “terrible mistake” in cropping an African climate activist out of a photo sent to customers of The Associated Press prompted soul-searching and some tense staff conversations over issues of racism and inclusion Monday at the news organization.

An AP photographer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland took a picture Friday of five activists, including the well-known Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and Ugandan Vanessa Nakate, who were there to discuss climate change. Preparing to send the image, the photographer cropped out Nakate, leaving a picture of four white women before a scenic mountain backdrop.

The article goes on to state the following:

The initial explanation for the cropping was that it enabled a close-up of Thunberg, and that it removed a distraction — a building behind where Nakate was standing.

After editors and others spotted the cropping, they pronounced it “insensitive” and “an error journalistically.” That prompted a response from AP, who said “that it will expand diversity training worldwide as a result.”

“My hope is that we can learn from this and be a better news organization going forward,” Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor and senior vice president, said Monday, ABC News reports. “I realize I need to make clear from the very top, from me, that diversity and inclusion needs to be one of our highest priorities.”

Nakate posted a video on Twitter saying, “it was the first time in my life that I understood the definition of the word ‘racism.’”

“I don’t feel OK right now,” she said in the video. “The world is so cruel.”

Thunberg said the picture was “totally unacceptable in so many ways. Like Vanessa said herself: ‘You didn’t just erase a photo. You erased a continent.’”

Buzbee later tweeted an apology directly to Nakate:

“Vanessa, on behalf of the AP, I want to say how sorry I am that we cropped that photo and removed you from it. It was a mistake that we realize silenced your voice, and we apologize. We will all work hard to learn from this.”

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