Editorial: Newsweek's headline rage
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Protests have rocked parts of Arab countries over the past week after the release of an anti-Islam film in the United States. American embassies have been attacked in multiple Middle Eastern countries and the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in the attacks in Libya.
News organizations have been in a frenzy to cover these stories from halfway across the world. The weekly news magazine Newsweek created controversy with its latest cover, which displays the bold headline “Muslim Rage” above a photo of protestors in Morocco.
The cover has received widespread criticism, and rightly so: it demonstrates the very definition of over-the-top sensationalism.
Newsweek has long been one of the largest news magazines in the world, a competitor to Time magazine and other publications that cover the most important issues happening around the world.
But the latest cover is more in the ilk of the New York Daily News, a newspaper that unapologetically sensationalizes sports and other New York news topics every day on its front cover. The difference is, Newsweek is covering something much more important than Tim Tebow and the Jets.
Newsweek is sensationalizing rather than reporting, obfuscating the truth instead of getting to the heart of it.
It is especially shameful because the cover story, written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a thoughtful and well-written piece about the current state of the Middle East and the Muslim world. It describes how the United States has to deal with anti-American government sentiments that linger and sometimes flare-up in parts of the Middle East.
But the cover has tarnished that message, perpetuating the stereotype that all Muslims feel hatred toward non-believers, as if “Muslim Rage” is an epidemic. We know this to be untrue. There are radicals in nearly every religion that should not be let off the hook for their violent and unreasonable actions. But no one faction is representative of an entire group, especially a religion as vast and widespread as Islam.
It is up to the news media to educate and inform, not to embellish and fabricate. Provocative headlines have long been a part of the journalism business. Newsweek has been criticized before for its covers. But there are ethical guidelines that should not be crossed. With its latest cover, Newsweek disregarded ethics entirely in order to sell a few more magazines.