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From AJR,   August/September 2005  issue

Weighing in on Newsweek   

By Unknown

Regarding your op-ed piece in the June/July AJR (Full Court Press):

Can I assume that if your child was responsible for the deaths of a dozen innocent people, you would suggest that he deserved to be "spanked"?

Your failure to call Newsweek to proper account for their rush to judgment in the Guantánamo-Quran debacle is just another prime example of why people are increasingly turning away from traditional journalism.

Until we, as journalists, jettison our tendentious attitudes (as you unequivocally declared the rights of detainees at Guantánamo were jettisoned), the public's trust in our objectivity will continue to erode, and justifiably so.

Jim Vanore
Features editor
Herald Newspapers
Rio Grande, New Jersey

Two articles in the same issue highlighted the new challenges and opportunities of the commercial print press. Accordingly, I would have wished for a stronger stand against wishful journalism than you took in your June/July column. If we are to retain, if not actually create, our distinction as purveyors of fact, then the line between reporting and commentary must be clearer than was shown by Newsweek's sloppy and careless report on the Quran and the Gitmo toilet. Newsweek did not have a source. A source that disappears or caves in is not a source. Sources in the days of real investigative journalism led reporters to evidence.

It is still unclear whether anyone but reporter Michael Isikoff vetted this source prior to publication or whether he gave the name to a senior editor, or whether a senior editor even asked for it. The publishers of stronger publications — USA Today and the New York Times — took action when they were disgraced.

Newsweek should follow suit with prompt and decisive discipline of all involved.

Douglas L. Turner
Washington bureau chief
Buffalo News
Washington, D.C.

BRAVO! To Rem Rieder..for your great Newsweek column in the June/July issue of AJR. "Attention shifts" have become a sad way of the world. Thanks for turning a spotlight on the failure to fight back!

Tom Ables
San Diego, California