Insight Should Defend Itself with Better Reporting
In comparing how Insight magazine handles its journalistic problem with the way the AP dealt with their Jamil Hussein story we a significant difference. When confronted with the possibility they used a fake source in stories on Iraq violence the AP sent reporters out multiple times to reinforce their story. They results have been lackluster and show the AP of being susceptible to thinly-sourced reporting. They haven’t eased their critics’ concerns, but we see an attempt by someone at the AP at getting their facts straight.
In Insight’s case instead of more reporting like CNN did [video here] they launch into an author-less attack on their accusers. The editorial lambasts The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz for mentioning the Unification Church owns both Insight and the Washington Times calling it “a form of religious bigotry that tries to smear our credibility by implying that we are owned by religious zealots.” Kurtz’s mention of ownership doesn’t take away from the substance of his reporting: Insight spread a political smear from one anonymous source. Instead of getting their Hillary Clinton campaign source to come out of the shadows or find a source willing to be named they throw out the charge Kurtz and the Post “carry water and curry favor for ambitious and aggressive politicians.”
In their editorial Insight writes about how they’re a part of New Media “surging forward in readership, influence and clout.” In our New Media age with many sources of reporting reputation and trust are key. It’s too easy to click to another news magazine and never come back. Insight has a chance to repair its damaged reputation by improving their story, adding facts, and getting sources on the record. Right now, they’re known as a means to promote political hit pieces. Now that we know Sen. Obama didn’t attend an Indonesian madrassa the story is who’s the source of the leak and why. Insight received bogus information they’re under no obligation to continue protecting a lying source. If they don’t they’ve flushed their reputation away much like Newsweek did with their bogus Koran in the toilet story. Insight may be Rolling Stone’s favorite conservative magazine, but they are just a music rag.