The New York Times has returned a prize awarded for its podcast “Caliphate” in 2018 after an internal investigation found that “crucial portions did not meet its standards for accuracy.”
The newspaper returned the prestigious Peabody Award after saying that it “no longer stood behind the reporting” featured on the podcast.
The podcast, centered around alleged Daesh militant Shehroze Chaudhry, came under scrutiny after several inexplicable holes in Chaudhry’s story came to light.
“It is also clear that elements of the original fact-checking process were not sufficiently rigorous: Times journalists were too credulous about the verification steps that were undertaken, and dismissive of the lack of corroboration of essential aspects of Mr. Chaudhry’s account,” an editor’s note published on Friday said.
“The Times has concluded that the episodes of ‘Caliphate’ that presented Mr. Chaudhry’s claims did not meet our standards for accuracy,” it added.
In the podcast, Chaudhry, a Canadian of Pakistani descent living in Toronto, described Daesh operations in detail, including maps, color-coded instructions and training methods for new recruits.
However, after being interrogated by Canadian authorities in September, Chaudhry’s extremist tales proved to be nothing more than a hoax.
Superintendent Christopher deGale, who led the investigation, said: “Hoaxes can generate fear within our communities and create the illusion that there is a potential threat to Canadians, while we have determined otherwise.”
The revelations prompted The New York Times to return the Peabody Award for the podcast and rescind another award given to producers of the show.
“As the standard for quality media, the integrity of the Peabody Award is paramount, and we appreciate the professional manner in which the Times has handled this matter,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of the George Foster Peabody Awards.
“We will receive the return of the award, recognizing the mutual respect both organizations have for each other’s longstanding record of journalistic integrity.”