Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Retraction

Newsweek has officially retracted its May 9 story [discussed here] on an alleged incident of desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. Alan at The Yellow Line has more on this, as well as an excellent look at how the partisan blogs have treated this issue. Joe at The Moderate Voice also has a good roundup of reaction to the story and the retraction.

"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantánamo Bay," said Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker in a statement.

The question now shifts to, will this retraction be enough to quell the anger of Muslims around the world? Or has the damage already been done? The important thing to remember is that this is just one in a series of incidents, from Abu Ghraib to other accounts of abuse at detention centers, that have blackened the record of the American military - the media ought to focus on those that can be proven, not racing to reveal new outrages without guaranteeing the accuracy of their reports.

Of course another large issue comes into play as well. As the New York Times writes in its story on the retraction,

"Newsweek's apology - and now retraction - comes as the use of anonymous sources by news organizations around the country is under heightened scrutiny. Reader surveys have said that the use of unnamed officials is one of the biggest reasons their trust in the news media has eroded, and several news organizations, including the New York Times, have been tightening the rules on the use of officials and others who will not provide information unless their identities are masked."

It's not hard to assume that this black eye for Newsweek will drive reader opinions of stories that cite "unnamed officials" even lower.


At 10:24 PM, Anonymous John said...

I don’t know what to say aboot the whole Newsweek fiasco. I haven’t read the article since the Barnes and Noble by my office doesn’t get the mag until Tuesdays, and I doubt they’ll be any left this week. I just don’t get what the pont was to print that soldiers were alledgedly “flushing the Koran down the toilet.”

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media damage own credibility, again
The Halifax Herald Limited
"Newsweek's actions were journalistically irresponsible. It should have realized that this type of story had the potential to be explosive - given recent history - and insisted on corroboration of the allegations, corroboration meeting a very high standard. Going on one person's say-so - someone who did not have a copy of the military investigator's report, who was not involved in the investigation and who was going by memory of what he believed he remembered reading - falls woefully short. The consequences of the magazine's mistake were literally deadly."

"The reason the media should ask tough questions is obvious. First, they should want to get it right, whatever their personal feelings about the issues involved. Second, if they don't, they are risking the most precious commodity a journalist can possess - credibility."

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

These allegations have been made numerous times over the past several months without drawing this kind of ire.

Newsweek's cardinal sin was saying that their source was a GOVERNMENT agent, NOT a former detainee and also relying on a source which had no hard proof that they could produce to substantiate the claim.

And just in MNSHO, Scotty...wanna be the pot or the kettle today?

(aside: do we still have to call them detainees or can we now actually call them enemy POW's?)


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