That Is How Journalism Should Be

In April 1997, the international weekly Newsweek Magazine published a special section about children titled “Your Child”. It was a rich, valuable issue that tackled many important and vital topics that concern parents and educators. The topics were displayed in a way that was simplified, cited, and very interesting.


The seasonal issue was supposed to be distributed during 3 months, starting from April until June 1997. The issue gained the readers’ admirations and the magazine received hundreds of phone calls within the first few weeks of publication.


On Friday, 2 May 1997, the medical consultant of the magazine Geoffrey Cowley received a phone call from a reader who was also a pediatrician, saying that there was a mistake in one of the articles, as it suggested that “infants can eat raw carrot chunks at age 5 months.” The pediatrician explained that it was a wrong advice, as raw carrots might get stuck in an infant’s throat and cause choking.


After the medical editor revised the information, it was clear that it was made by the copy editor who was working on two items simultaneously.


On the same day, few hours after the phone call and before the end of the work day, the magazine’s staff recalled all the issues that have been distributed to newsstands, which were more than 300,000 copies. The magazine was reprinted after the correction was made, and published advertisements in other magazines asking subscribers to call a toll-free number to receive a new edition after correction and send back all the issues they might have received as gifts for doctor offices and hospitals.


When Mr. Wheeler, the magazine’s spokesman, was asked about the cost of the recall and reprint, he said that the magazine’s management reacted quickly and determinately without considering the financial factors, and that it was the magazine’s responsibility towards the readers and they had no choice but correct their mistake. The spokesman cleared that the issue was revised completely and no mistakes were found other than the one mentioned previously.


Some might think that the reason behind an act like that is fear that a wrong piece of information might lead to the harming of a child, which will lead to lawsuits that will end up costing the magazine more than the recall and reprint. Supposing that this is true, it indicates the value of human life and the awareness of journalists of the size of that responsibility in front of courts and fear of falling under it.


Journalism is a message and a trust, not an honor and trade.


The reader respects the one who gives him respect and honesty, and is estranged from the one who disrespects and cheats him.


And the responsibility and judgment are greater for those who put God in front of them. And whoever escapes justice on earth will not escape the justice of heavens, and God is aware of every little thing on earth and in heaven.