January 31, 2021
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CANADALAND
#357 Califail
The New York Times’ wildly popular podcast Caliphate came into question after its central character, a Canadian man who claimed he’d joined ISIS and committed executions, was charged with perpetrating a terrorist hoax.
Jesse Brown
Host & Publisher
Andréa Schmidt
Managing Editor, Podcasts

A re-investigation of the podcast by The Times concluded that, according to an editor’s note attached to the podcast, “episodes of Caliphate that presented Mr. Chaudhry’s claims did not meet our standards for accuracy.”

The debacle caused Rukmini Callimachi, the reporter and voice of Caliphate, to be reassigned to a new beat. And it has resurfaced allegations of workplace misconduct by Caliphate producer Andy Mills, provoked concerns about The Daily host Michael Barbaro’s efforts to shape coverage of the fallout, and set off a wider conversation about who gets to tell stories in podcasting.

In this episode, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple discusses where Caliphate went wrong. Laila Al-Arian, executive producer of Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines, critiques the reporting biases she believes contributed to the error.  Then, podcast host Jolenta Greenberg weighs in on what this episode tells us about the rise of the podcast industry.

When asked for comment by Canadaland, The New York Times pointed us to this letter from assistant managing editor Sam Dolnick, written in response to a letter of complaint by members of the Public Radio Program Directors Association. In it, Dolnick writes: “We believe we’ve handled what was a significant journalistic lapse with accountability.”

This episode is brought to you by Dispatch Coffee, SquareSpace, and Article.

Additional music by Audio Network.

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