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May 17, 2005

Will Newsweek survive? That's the question that must now be posed by the lost of trust and credibility the news magazine had with the public through what can only be described as an amazing level of self-inflicted damage. Worse, the burden of repairing the damage wrought by Newsweek's faulty reporting must be borne by those who are most damaged by it. (HT: The Belmont Club).

Ordnarily, when an organization finds its credibility damaged, it has something like a twelve-step program it may follow to rebuild the trust it has lost. The magnitude of the damage done by Newsweek's reporting may not allow that to happen here. In this respect, the situation that Newsweek the business finds itself in is similar to that of Arthur Andersen following its role in the accounting scandals surrounding dubious practices at Enron.

Once one of the five big accounting firms in the U.S., with thousands of employees spread across the world, Arthur Anderson is today a shell of its former self - more a legal entity for the sake of directing mail and settling claims than a functional business. Newsweek's transgressions are far worse, having inspired the loss of life and the damage of the United States' hard-won credibility in the Islamic corners of the world. This damage may have great repercussions for many more years to come, as the U.S. now must overcome the stigma that Newsweek's reporting has attached to it.

Will Newsweek survive? Maybe the better question is: "Should it?"

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