There was good news for Newsweek this week. It was announced Friday that the Daily Beast and Newsweek would be joining forces in an effort to keep the 77 year-old publication afloat in a time where it seems all but the most elite magazines and newspapers are shutting down.
Yet again, Keach Hagey, Politico's media reporter, set off to report the story from the media angle, and found that there was a little publication that never seemed to get mentioned in all of the coverage of the merger, Newsweek.com.
In her Politico article, Hagey set out to discover the missing piece of the Newsweek/The Daily Beast merger. Unlike last week's stellar analysis of the Keith Olbermann controversy at MSNBC, this piece about Newsweek is full of vague quotes, anonymous sources and quotes from other publications; three things that seem to have been embedded in my brain as either last resorts, or completely off-limits.
Hagey begins the article by stating her thesis as though she were writing a research paper:
It looks like Newsweek.com might be the unwanted stepchild in the marriage between Newsweek and the Daily Beast.
Amidst all the fanfare about what Tina Brown’s print turnaround skills will bring to the faltering Newsweek, and what Newsweek’s print advertising inventory will bring to the not-yet-profitable Daily Beast, there’s been no clear message on just what will become of Newsweek’s own digital property, which brings in twice as many unique visitors per month as the 2-year-old Beast.
This is great. It's clear, she states her purpose and throws in a fact to frame the rest of the article. The problems begin after the first quote:
Staffers were told that the two websites would merge, but were not sure about whether that effectively would mean the end of Newsweek.com. Some were certain that, at the very least, it would mean that Newsweek’s digital team would be moved off of its very unpopular content management system, into the Beast’s nimbler software. But, as The New York Observer’s Nick Summers, who broke the story of the merger, reports, there are also fears that layoffs are in the offing among the digital team.
Hagey, where did you get this information? Why did you decide you don't need to cite something like this? If some Newsweek staffers told you, then you should say so, or if staffers told another news outlet, then cite it, but you can't just make a statement like this without any sort of citation to back it up. It discredits the whole point. I could see how she might be getting her information from The New York Observer, but her wording is still far too vague to safely assume so.
Not only does she use vaguely cited facts, but she also uses anonymous sources:
Newsweek has 250 staffers, by Colvin’s count, and the Daily Beast has 70. The cohabitation is set to begin some time after the first of the year, according to sources at the Beast, in Newsweek’s new offices in Lower Manhattan.
Come on Hagey, you can do better than this. Your article about MSNBC last week was so good, so when I saw this, my expectations were set really high. But when you only have one, maybe two sources that you actually talked to, and the rest of the quotes in your article coming from other publications, you're just doing lazy reporting.