What a month for magazine journalism! Rolling Stone‘s blockbuster UVa rape story has been steadily unraveling under increased scrutiny and the once-storied New Republic saw a mass exodus of its mostly white male staff. Now it’s New York magazine’s turn as the grist for the media critics’ mill.
Number 12 on the magazine’s 2014 “Reasons To Love New York” package, which came out Sunday, was a piece titled, “12. Because a Stuyvesant Senior Made Millions Picking Stocks. His Hedge Fund Opens as Soon As He Turns 18.” In the piece, Stuyvesant High School junior Mohammed Islam was given space to claim he had raked in $72 million trading on the oil and gold markets. Amazing! This kid is a genius. Oh, but maybe not in the way we originally were led to believe, largely in part to some shoddy reporting and (total lack of?) fact checking.
The New York Observer caught up with Mohammed Islam yesterday at his newly retained crisis management firm 5WPR, to ask a few questions.
You seem to be quoted saying “eight figures.” That’s not true, is it?
No, it is not true.
Is there ANY figure? Have you invested and made returns at all?
So it’s total fiction?
Oh. Yesterday, CNBC caught up with the writer, Jessica Pressler, who had this to say:
“I still think the piece is skeptical enough,” she told CNNMoney early Monday afternoon. “The story says, ‘This is a rumor and draw your own conclusions.'”
And here’s the new editor’s note, which was added to the bottom of the online version of the story:
Editor’s note: Mohammed Islam has denied that he made $72 million on THE STOCK MARKET. Our story portrays the $72 million figure as a rumor; the initial headline has been changed to more clearly reflect the fact that we did not know the exact figure he has made in trades. However, Mohammed provided bank statements that showed he is worth eight figures, and he confirmed on the record that he’s worth eight figures.
We get the feeling this isn’t over for New York just yet. In some good, semi-journalism news, at least The Newsroom is over.