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May 17, 2005

Reduced to “Newswee”


So, you’re a major news organization and your assignment is to get on with the flogging of Newsweek for claiming a Quran was unceremoniously flushed down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay. 

It’s a big story because the now discredited report led to rioting in any number of cities in the Arab world.  It’s an even bigger story domestically because it gives the right wing the opportunity to: a) reinforce the notion that the press is dominated by a cabal of America-hating liberal wackos, b) railroad criticism of the heinous detention facility, even if the report is true, and c) accelerate the drive to eliminate the use of unnamed sources by the (allegedly America-hating liberal wacko) press.

When it comes time to put a picture to the story, you have a number of choices.  You can show various images of the anti-American or anti-Newsweek demonstrations fomented by the report, such as WAPO, or CBC did.  Or, like the Drudge Report (through AP News, which show two versions), The Huffington Post, and, you can run this AP file shot of the front of the Newsweek Building in New York.

There are a number of almost subliminal reasons I think the latter is a good choice. 

Because Newsweek seems to be catering to a younger audience with it’s its irreverent, cocky (and now we can add, slipshod) style, of the two figures in the photo,  the one more representative of the target demographic (a woman in denim and high heeled shoes) is apparently racing from the building as quickly as possible.  (I especially like how her raised heel lines up with the front door.)

The paper the woman is trailing behind her ends up slicing through the “k” in the Newsweek logo.  It’s a cut reflective of the slicing and dicing the publication has brought upon itself for its sloppy journalism.

As if the police were called to respond to this egregious journalistic crime, the window of the building is secured with caution tape. 

There is also masking tape over the crack in the street front window.  This conjures the impression that someone (inspired by the right wing blogosphere?) tried to express their feelings with a brick.  Or, it could just suggest that the place is cracking up.

…Of course, just the fact the photo is shot from curb level associates the news organization with dirt. 

(edit: 5/17/05 9:18am PST)

(image: Mary Altaffer/AP.  May 17, 2005 in YahooNews and about 25 other places)

  • Dale Peterson

    Grammar check
    “Because Newsweek seems to be catering to a younger audience with it’s irreverent, cocky …”
    In this case, “its” is the correct form. It’s pretty simple. The possessive form of “its” has no apostrophe; the contraction of “it is” does.
    Don’t they teach grammar anymore?

  • Asta

    Dale, don’t let a simple typo distract you from the bigger news. Perhaps the real question is, “Don’t they teach people how to pay attention to what is really important anymore?”
    At this moment, I have the TV on and Good Morning America (gag) is pushing this non-story about Newsweek to the ends of the known universe. They are using terms like “devastating revelation”, “damaged image of America.” Personally, I think George Bush has covered that very well all by himself.
    This is another “watch the shiney puppet, not my other hand” propaganda event. In fact, how do we know what the images of the rioters are actually about? For all we know, this could be stock footage, courtesy of the Bush/Cheney Foreign Film Archives, depicting people of some middle eastern country protesting something totally unconnected.

  • George J Myers

    I read somewhere when George Lucas wants to talk to Steven Spielberg (and vice versa?) they use Yiddish. Boy, this “krum” (crooked) story sure put a “beckel” (crumb) in their “bord” (beard). I wonder what “shvitz” (sweat also David Bowie’s Internet company) put it out for them?

  • cj

    Do you get the feeling that we are being manipulated, yet again? Is there ANY reason that we should believe anything that comes out of the white house/propaganda machine these days? That people (primarily American–lib and con–truth in media watchers et al.) are rabidly jumping up and down pointing their fingers at Newsweek (and not the propaganda machine itself) is laughable and sad at the same time. I can’t wait for PEOPLE to weigh in on this…. Obfuscation, obfuscation, obfuscation! That is the name of the game. Perhaps this “incident” will clear the air on all the prisoner abuse issues that have been circling around. Hey, how can we trust any report about prisoner abuse now? While I am no real fan of Newsweek, I see them as just the latest pawn in the battle to undermine criticism of the regime and free press. Was their reporting shoddy? Are there wmds in Iraq? Pot calling the kettle black, if you ask me….. As for the photo, I see this as a representation of the fate of journalism in general. I see “NEWSWEE” as the trend in journalism–the news has a wee impact on our lives/opinions. Ask yourselves, why do you trust a particular news source these days? Is it because their reportage is impeccable, or is it because you like what you read…? Frankly, every news media has skeletons in its closet–erroneous reporting, unsubstantiated “facts”. And I myself don’t really have the time to go and double-check all their sources… Seriously, WHO reported on the existence of wmds in Iraq that led to the Iraq war that has led to thousands of people being killed, many more injured, and millions displaced? WHO was the source of that information? …pot calling the kettle….

  • George Myers, Jr.

    “Newswee” is in good company with “Weegee” (who worked for a number of years with Stanley Kubrick on “the bomb” comedy while in Europe I read online) and “Agee” whose once slept in bed, I slept in at a new “bed and breakfast” near Frenchtown, NJ where the “Lucky” Lindbergh kidnapping trial took place, a federal investigation headed by retired General Schwartzkopf’s father, while assisting an EPA Superfund cleanup on the Delaware River.

  • Johanna

    An interesting article.
    Newsweek Got Gitmo Right
    Peace. Johanna

  • hello

    slipshod? you are not this gullible are you?

  • Assamite

    I don’t know how to wittily respond to the trolltard, so I’ll just ignore him.
    This is a Dan Rather redux. It doesn’t matter whether the story actually happened or not – it’s whether you REPORT on the story and if it was based on misleading information. And dammit if the WH sez so, I sez so too!

  • George Myers, Jr.

    Stanley Kubrick came from the Bronx, NY where I am a block away from the Bronx Muslim Center, on Rhinelander Ave., near the corner of White Plains Road. Police were once stationed outside the former Communications Workers of America union hall, now “religious” center, though as far as I know its not used as a mosque. There are also a few local stores for “halal” foods (similar to “kosher”) that have replaced some of the emptying storefronts as the neighnnorhood gets denser in population. As far as I know it’s been pretty quiet here over the Newsweek report.

  • Landsurveyor K

    Photo analysis of Condi Rice anyone? In Wiesbaden dressed in black leather and stilettos, Baghdad dressed in pink camo kevlar vest. Was that just bad print of photo in local press? Was it really pink camo? Anybody else see this travesty?

  • hauksdottir

    And what happens when the source discovers WHICH official document he saw that verified the assertions of Koran abuse? Are all these cowing and bleating and running media going to turn round on the White House machine and bark back?
    Maybe it wasn’t the SouthCom report, and maybe it was. Until that is printed, we won’t know… but my bet is that if it *was* in the report, it has been excised by now. (I’m hoping that it was in another report.) Given all the claims of trampling, tearing, dumping, flushing, kicking and stepping on, at various unrelated sites, by guys who had no opportunity to talk to each other, I’m willing to believe that it happened. I just wonder why the issue took so long to ignite.
    When we have guards using dogs to bloody up prisoners and beating them to death and torturing them for months, throwing a Koran into the toilet is one of the milder abuses (at least from the American POV).
    Will any of the guards have enough personal courage to admit this happened? Probably not. Given what we’ve heard and seen from Gitmo and the 10 detainee camps in Iraq, it takes a certain type of non-human to work in that environment.
    Newsweek erred greatly in not having more than one source for that story. They also erred in not standing up to the Administration and saying that they were gathering more proofs. They will bow to corporate pressure like hollow grasses pounded by rain.

  • EphemeralNotion

    Old entry, but I thought I’d add this observation, which may be a bit of a stretch, but when I first looked at the photo it occurred to me:
    The way in which the paper the woman is carrying slices through the majority of the “k” and the bottom fifth of the “e” does so in such a way as to form a new letter, when the word is not looked at directly. That letter is a lower-case “a”.
    So you get “Newsweak” as a vaguely subliminal message.
    The effect is even more pronounced in the smaller, cropped photo on the main page.

  • todd

    also tagged on rather late: just a reminder to be careful when using the phrase “the Arab world”, when as in this case you are refering largely to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  • karine

    good company. thank~you,karine

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