Read all about it-Quran wasn’t flushed: Newsweek needs to be accountable for the damage caused by bad reporting

Sometimes members of the media do not realize the impact that a misstep or misstatement can have on the real world. Mistakes are made every day in the news-some important, some not. Some get exposed, but many don’t.

The simple truth is that often, the media really screws up. When mistakes happen, however, members of the media need to be accountable and should try to rectify their mistakes as soon as possible.

Last weekend, Newsweek acknowledged that it was wrong when it reported that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Quran.

Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker apologized, saying he wasn’t sure whether the reported incident of a Quran being flushed down a toilet had really occurred.

This huge error on the part of Newsweek caused the deaths of many people in the Middle East. In Afghanistan alone, 16 were killed and riots injured hundreds. Afghan Muslim clerics threatened a holy war against the United States as a result. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Arab League all condemned the United States for their alleged abuse of power.

Many people I have talked to have a hard time understanding how such a report could cause so much violence. Personally, I don’t find it hard to imagine at all.

Imagine what would happen in the Christian world if the Bible were to be burned or desecrated in an attempt to get information out of a detainee. Or think about what would happen in the Jewish community if someone had done this to the Torah.

Newsweek’s report was based on the statement of one government official. This official said he had seen a report claiming the event had occurred.

Newsweek should never have run the story if it couldn’t produce more supporting evidence than that. Multiple sources are needed to make assumptions and accusations in a story that will have such international impact.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said it best-“People are dead because of what this son of a b**** said. How could he be credible now?”

The answer is that Newsweek cannot be credible in the face of this terrible mistake, and it needs to take action immediately rectify this problem. Newsweek said it is not contemplating disciplinary action against any staff members. This is ridiculous. It should take responsibility for the flagrant ignorance the staff members exercised by basing a story on one, apparently ignorant source.

Editor Mark Whitaker, as well as the authors of the story, should be terminated as soon as possible in order to restore credibility to Newsweek magazine and the news industry as a whole.

Sometimes mistakes are made. All members of the media, however, need to be more careful when dealing with huge issues and mind-boggling stories like the alleged Quran desecration incident.

The bigger the story, the more careful writers and editors need to be. There is no excuse for Newsweek’s actions, and those responsible should be held accountable.

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