Reporting on politically volatile regions, such as the Middle East, requires extra vigilance in getting the facts straight and accurately reporting while relying on other news outlets’ work. Newsweek was reminded of that recently when the news magazine had to retract two articles by Tom O’Connor in June.
Both articles have been replaced with a retraction note admitting the articles “contained factual inaccuracies and did not conform to Newsweek‘s editorial standards.” O’Connor is a Defense and International Conflicts reporter for Newsweek. iMediaEthics wrote to both O’Connor and Newsweek‘s editor multiple times to ask why exactly the stories were removed and what was wrong with them, but we had no responses.
Honest Reporting reported that it complained about problems in both stories to Newsweek, prompting the retractions. The media watchdog is focused on bias and errors about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
O’Connor’s June 28 article, “U.S. Military sending warship to Israel, spy planes to Syria after chemical weapons report” and June 23 report, “Israel will not accept a single Palestinian to old borders, says defense minister” were both unpublished.
O’Connor’s June 23 story is still available on Google Cache. The article reported on a speech from Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as reported by Palestinian news site Maan News and Israeli news site Artuz Sheva, which O’Connor identified as “far right.” The rest of the article focuses on past history and speeches regarding Israeli borders.
Despite the retraction and unpublishing from Newsweek‘s website, the June 28 article was re-published on Yahoo News’ website and is still visible there. The article is largely written in Voice of God style, where information is reported without attribution, but the sources for the article that are listed are other websites and news sites — military aviation site the Aviationist, BBC News, and Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Regarding O’Connor’s June 23 article, Honest Reporting said O’Connor misreported on a speech from an Israeli politician and erred in describing the history of the Israeli borders.
Separately, the watchdog pointed to O’Connor’s June 28 article, which claimed that Israeli helicopters attacked the Syrian military, citing a Haaretz newspaper article. However, Honest Reporting pointed out that the Haaretz article said the Syrian army made the claim and Israel denied the allegation.
iMediaEthics has been in touch with Newsweek as we expect the magazine’s review of the three freelance stories it published by Kevin Deutsch. Last month, Newsday revealed it couldn’t locate 109 of Deutsch’s sources in his 600 stories for the newspaper. Newsweek indicated that its editors would make a similar investigation of Deutsch’s freelance articles for the magazine.
Newsweek has retracted 2 stories that did not conform to editorial standards. We apologize for the errors. For more: https://t.co/j0RlI7GVcW
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) July 7, 2017