Monday, May 16, 2005

Another media debacle

Looks like Newsweek has finally retracted their piece about the reported desecration of the Koran by American guards at Guantánamo Bay. Such is the danger of an overcrowded media marketplace where everyone is clamoring for an exclusive, compounded further by the bloggers who often break things before the lumbering traditional media behemoths get to it. It also brings up the issue of anonymous sourcing, which is frighteningly common and often used as a crutch in lieu of deeper and dirtier investigation.

In WaPo medic critic Howard Kurtz' piece, Bob Zelnick, a former Pentagon correspondent, and current chair of BU's journalism department adds a dose of reality to the criticism:

"I don't see how a reporter can function in a sensitive beat without relying on anonymous sources -- even one anonymous source if the reporter has confidence in him." But Zelnick said that even if the Koran incident was true, he would have had "reservations" about running it because "the potential to inflame is greater than the value of the piece itself."

Now, the question is will NewsWeek editor Mark Whittaker be ousted or not?

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