Al-Ghad retracts Genpet story, but still misses the point

19/10/2008

The first thing I did this morning was to check my copy of AL-Ghad which was awaiting me on the breakfast table. I was happy to see that Al-Ghad published a retraction (or “sort of” a retraction) of their Genpets story from last week. The journalist who wrote the original story published a column on the first page of Al-Ghad’s Life section with the title of “Genpet: between truth and the web sites”.

The column clarifies that Genpets are an art project and not a “living toy”. The excuse for publishing the original story is that the the Jordanian Cabinet “banned the toy”! The retraction column cites Wikipedia and the BBC as sources to refute the story. But the the writer still does some beating around the bush by saying that there are “varying opinions” around the existence of the toy. The retraction should simply have:

1. Said the story is wrong, totally wrong and that science is nowhere near the ability to manufacture and sell a living creature. 2. APOLOGIZED to the readers for such a gross mistake.

And the retraction still misses the main point. The REAL JOURNALISTIC STORY should have been: How did the government, religious scholars and the media make such a huge mistake about something which is an obvious hoax/joke and that is fully explained on the web.

Just for your info, the original Genpet story in Al-Ghad was the most commented, read and emailed story of that day. Too many people were misinformed.

It’s good that Al-Ghad listened to its readers and published something to refute the story, but it is SAD that they could not bring themselves to sincerely apologize to their thousands of readers.

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9 Comments

  1. Actually, the thing that I found sad is the ban order from the Jordanian and other Arab countries cabinets, if what I read was true.. then that would be the real fiasco (of many) of Arabic governments, newspaper making such mistake, is still a mistake (that needs retraction for sure), but a government failing to discover such a hoax.. is a total disaster!

  2. Musa says:

    As an al-Ghad reader, I am absolutely dissatisfied with the way al-Ghad has dealt with the situation for the exact reasons you have mentioned above. Portraying the story as a controversial debatable issue is as disgraceful as publishing the original story. The lack of an APOLOGY in the blabbering article above is an indication of a lack of professionalism on the parts of the reporter, her editor, and even on the parts of Moussa Barhoomeh (the editor in chief) and the head of the editorial board (owner Mohammad Alyyan).

    Mistakes happen ….be bold enough to admit you made a mistake and don’t try to blame the government and spam emails.

    I am seriously considering canceling my subscription.

    A few months ago, al-Ghad published a story on the first page claiming that 3,000 people attended the semi final game in the Arab clubs basketball tournament between Zain and Orthodoxi – while in reality less than a 100 people attended that game. The sports editor brushed it off and never bothered to comment on the issue, even though it was brought to his attention

  3. Musa says:

    And yeah, one more note for Ms Fareehan and her editors, just to point out how clear their clarification was:
    This morning – a local radio station was making a reference to al-Ghad’s story warning the listeners from such harmful toys and bringing them the good news that the Jordanian government has banned it.

  4. Batir Wardam says:

    Give them some credit Ahmad. This may be the first time that a Jordanian newspaper admits that one of its stories was misleading or inaccurate, without being pressured by legal actions and governments!

  5. I agree with Ahmad. We depend on the media to seek the truth in what the government is trying to sell us. That should not stop at political issues and corruption…etc

    A journalist’s main competenece is that ability to research and uncover the truth.

  6. Ali says:

    If you think Al Ghad screwed, read their latest article about Homosexality in Jordan, what kind of language is used?

    http://alidahmash.blogspot.com/2008/10/homosexuality-in-jordan.html

  7. Adel says:

    this is one of the worst retractions i have ever read!

  8. [...] Al Ghad can be described as Jordan’s most ambitious newspaper, and after five years it seems that its still maintains its momentum. I think that, despite some setbacks and the usual screw ups, it has built and maintained a reputation of being Jordan’s more enlightened daily. I know that some readers will now jump up from their seat and insist that Al Arab Al Youm is the more critical and daring paper, but I think that, in the mainstream, Al Arab Al Youm is irrelevant. The distribution numbers just don’t compare. Al Ghad is, for Jordanian standards, a professionally produced paper that has a proper marketing a distribution machine behind it. This, combined with its more open-minded and somewhat liberal leaning attitude, is what makes this newspaper stand out. [...]

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