by MONITOR l THE media make mistakes in covering the news. The only way to stop that happening is to impose state censorship or close down all newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the internet. Although some people might want to do that, and indeed some are actually doing it in parts of the world, it's not a recommended course of action. So what's important is that journalists work to the highest possible standards of accuracy and are constantly aware of the possible consequences when a report slips through that isn't 100 per cent right. The American-owned international newsmagazine Newsweek has been accused this week by the White House press secretary of causing “lasting damage” by its report that a Pentagon investigation had found that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had tried to flush a copy of the Koran down a toilet. The report led to riots in Afghanistan, Egypt and Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world in the course of which 16 people lost their lives and others were injured. When its report was challenged by the Pentagon, Newsweek checked and found that one of its sources for the story said he was no longer sure that the information he had provided was accurate. Newsweek reported this and expressed regret but subsequently, under pressure, said it accepted that the report was untrue. This was not enough for Scott McClellan, Mr Bush's press secretary. He said the magazine should “help repair the damage” done to the image of the United States in the Muslim world. Asked how it could do that, Mr McClellan said: “One way is to point out that our military personnel go out of their way to make sure the Holy Koran is treated with care.” Newsweek made a bad mistake but for the US government to make it responsible for “lasting damage” to the image of the US in the Muslim world is ludicrous given the damage already done to that image by the US military at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.