www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-islam-film-letter-20120920,0,487497.story

baltimoresun.com

Media errs in 'Innocence' coverage

11:15 AM EDT, September 20, 2012

Advertisement

The collective media had egg on its face recently when erroneous stories on the making of "The Innocence of Muslims" were first published on the air and in newspapers around the country.

Apparently, without verified sources, and responding to an unidentified telephone source, the media was duped into misidentifying a non-existent Israeli-American as a key figure in making this now infamous Internet movie trailer that had gone viral. Protests, violence, and the death of a well-loved American ambassador and other Americans occurred. Protests were exacerbated around the Muslim world by inaccurate, incomplete and unverified media reports. Hoodlums with weaponry had become engaged as well as everyday outraged Muslims.

By Sept. 16, the true facts had come to light by investigative reporting, and newspapers attempted to correct themselves in follow-up stories. The Sun was among those that published an informative, lengthy article ("Furor over controversial film puts focus on 2 men," Sept. 16), albeit on page 14.

I asked a number of acquaintances if they had read it. All literate, only one responded affirmatively. That goes to show how difficult it is to do "damage control" once inaccurate reports are published and circulated and when corrections and updates are not easy to find by way of their location.

Although, The Sun made a responsible effort to put things right, it would have been far better if the front page news had been followed up with a front page follow-up, or at least if the article were placed in the beginning pages of the paper and continued in the later pages. My observations through the years point to a trend among newspapers, in general, to be somewhat obscure in placing their corrections and follow-ups to major gaffes and mistakes. It is amazing how the domino effect can occur, and here there is a weighty lesson to be learned.

Stella Vodenos Gold