Anonymous Sources, Fact Check Fails Rule in David Kirkpatrick's Egypt Reporting

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iMediaEthics'analysis and numerous interviews reveal problems in NY Times coverage. Cairo University president Gaber Nassar shows where a bullet entered his office during student protests in 2014. He says the NYT never called him to fact check or get comment about student protester violence. (Credit: iMediaEthics, Nov.22,2014, screen shot from video).

The New York Times Cairo Bureau Chief David Kirkpatrick’s reporting from Egypt shows a heavy reliance on anonymous sources and unnamed media outlets, according to an analysis by iMediaEthics.

As part of its investigative series on international reporting about Egypt, which has included more than 125 interviews in Egypt, iMediaEthics found that Kirkpatrick has even failed to interview sources featured in headlines to give them an opportunity to rebut or correct facts or statements.

Since iMediaEthics began informing the Times of these reporting problems on Dec. 3, the reports of Dec. 13 and 15 show a dramatic, commendable turnaround. The Times indicates Egypt’s Foreign Ministry was contacted before both stories’ publication.

The second story took Egypt’s evidence and point of view seriously and liberally quoted the spokesman’s rebuttal, in steep contrast to the paper’s earlier reporting.

Before this U-turn, sources in Egypt who were included in Times’ reports or whose institutions were central to news events, such as student protester violence, told iMediaEthics that, during the past eight months, they have become angry and distrustful of international media since the Times bureau never contacted them for interviews or fact-checking.

The Grand Mufti, the Coptic Pope, officials at Cairo and Al Azhar universities, the Ministry of the Interior, State Information Services, and victims and families of protester violence in major incidents say bureau chief Kirkpatrick’s stories don’t include key facts or their rebuttals. Results from iMediaEthics’ recent interviews and study support this belief.

iMediaEthics’ count of sources of the 12 stories between Oct. 26 and Dec. 2, 2014 from the Times Cairo Bureau reveals that 25 percent of the stories had corrections appended and that the stories quoted 15 critics of the Egyptian government while only one supporter of the Sisi government was quoted. Five of the 12 reports contained no named sources interviewed by the Times. The articles’ frequent quoting of anonymous sources (38 in 12 reports) and their reliance on news releases (12 instances) or unnamed “state news media” (19 instances) begged for more original named sources and more extensive reporting. Large infographic is found below.

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NY Times Never Called Me! Anonymous Sources, Fact Check Failures Rule in David Kirkpatrick’s Egypt Reporting

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One Response

  1. 2021Atwater says:

    Its such a relief that media watchdogs are picking up on the absurd policies of the NYT towards Egypt. If you take a look at the Guardian’s reporting on Egypt as well you would find the same malicious reporting. Follow Patrick Kingsley, their Cairo reporter, and you would find errors that would make a journalism student quit school. Basically the same asinine yet meticulously malicious reporting as that of David Kilpatrick, but less sophisticated.

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