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NY Times loses awards over false reporting in IS podcast

  • Published at 10:41 pm December 19th, 2020
New York Times
File photo: The sun peaks over the New York Times Building in New York August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The paper said the podcast ‘Caliphate’ failed to meet editorial standards

The New York Times has returned one award and had another withdrawn over false reporting in “Caliphate,” the newspaper’s 2018 podcast series on militant group Islamic State.

After conducting a two-month-long investigation, the NY Times on Friday said the podcast did not meet editorial standards, reports BBC.

As a result of the revelation, NY Times has returned a Peabody Award for the podcast and the Overseas Press Club has withdrawn a Lowell Thomas Award given to the podcast’s producers.

The controversy revolves around Pakistan-born Shehroze Chaudhry, a central figure of the podcast who claims he had travelled to Syria and joined IS. Chaudhry was arrested by Canadian police in September and charged with hoax-terrorist activity.

Canadian broadcaster CBC in a 2017 report used Chaudhry’s alleged IS name Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi. In the report, he claimed that he whipped a man for the militant group but never killed anyone.

However, in interviews with NY Times aired on Caliphate in 2018, Chaudhry claimed to have executed people for IS. After the recent internal investigation, NY Times said it had found no evidence that Chaudhry committed the atrocities he described, and that there was “a history of misinterpretations” over his involvement with the militant group.

As quoted by BBC, NY Times Executive Editor Dean Basquet in a podcast on Friday said: “This failing was not about one reporter. I think it was an institutional failing.”

Podcast host Rukmini Callimachi, a four-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, has been reassigned from the terrorism beat. In a statement on Twitter, she has apologized for “what we missed and what we got wrong.”

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