Some MSM Show Journalistic Integrity
The Philadelphia Inquirer published the most controversial cartoon Sunday, with the following editorial statement:
The Inquirer's senior editors decided at Friday's afternoon news meeting to publish the most controversial image. It is being published "discreetly" with a note explaining the rationale, said Amanda Bennett, The Inquirer's editor.The paper published this note to readers:
"This is the kind of work that newspapers are in business to do," Bennett said. "We're running this in order to give people a perspective of what the controversy's about, not to titillate, and we have done that with a whole wide range of images throughout our history," she said.
Bennett compared it to decisions in the past to publish photographs of the bodies of burned Americans hung from a bridge in Iraq, as well as the 1989 photography of an artwork by Andres Serrano showing a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine.
"You run it because there's a news reason to run it," Bennett said. "The controversy does not appear to have died down. It's still a news issue."
About This CartoonThe online edition of the Rocky Mountain News offered a link to a Danish site showing all twelve cartoons. They may not have published them in print (no screen capture or hard copy as of yet), but allowing their readers to make their up their own mind about the cartoons without the censoring tactics of the Cartoon News Network and its pixellation of the cartoons is a welcome sign.
This cartoon and others have inflamed many Muslims since they were first published as a group in a Danish newspaper last year and reprinted in Norway last month. Islam teaches that any portrayal of Muhammad is sacrilegious. Some Muslims accept respectful representations but object to the cartoons' portrayal of Muhammad as a terrorist or as a caricature of Muslims or Arabs.
The Inquirer intends no disrespect to the religious beliefs of any of its readers. But when a use of religious imagery that many find offensive becomes a major news story, we believe it is important for readers to be able to judge the content of the image for themselves, as with the 1987 photograph by Andres Serrano of a crucifix in urine. On that basis we reprint this cartoon.
Why is this important? Not everyone has access to the internet, and of those who do, not all frequent the blogs that have taken up the cause, not in promoting the cartoons themselves, but the right to publish them. Many still rely on their dailies (even though that number is quickly diminishing) or local stations for their news, and a decision to withhold information, which is what a choice to self-censor becomes, prevents people from making intelligent, rational, and informed decisions. That may not be the mode of operation in parts of the Middle East, but over here, it is a welcome and necessary way of life.
BTW: Ask yourself, in the midst of the Ward Churchill controversy, did any paper "choose" not to offend victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families, men and women of the armed forces, or any other American who disagrees with anti-American rhetoric by refusing to publish excerpts of his writings? Absolutely not, and that is the point.
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