Monday, February 13, 2006

Editors Resign Over Paper Cowardice

For weeks, too many American news outlets have, out of an apparent lack of testicular fortitude, shied away from showing the cartoons that have caused Muslims wordwide to burn embassies, kidnap tourists, and threaten increasing violence against the West. For those of you who think all in the media lack the courage of their convictions, I encourage you to read on.

Several members of the editorial staff of the New York Press resigned last week over their publication's refusal to publish caricatures of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, which had originally been published in the Danish daily, Jyllands-Posten. (I will assume that readers know the basics of the excessive Muslim reaction to the publication of the caricatures in the weeks and months since. The subject has been much discussed, both here at TPS and elsewhere.) The editorial staff had sought to not only educate its audience about the source of the hubbub, but also criticize competing media outlets for refusing to run the caricatures along with their stories of Muslim "rage." Naturally, any such story would, for the sake of consistency, require that the caricatures be published alongside editorial content.

As reported by New York Newsday:
[City Hall bureau staffer Azi] Paybarah told The Associated Press that the package of stories about the cartoons was put together on Monday and was read by management. On Tuesday, toward the end of the day, the editorial team was told that the cartoons would not run.

Since the package would have included criticism of other newspapers for not running the cartoons, for the Press to do the same would have made the writers appear to be hypocrites, Paybarah said. There also was concern about editorial control, he said.
One has to feel for this editorial board. Here is a group of people who, unlike the rest of clowns in their supposed industry, were intent on actually presenting a complete, thorough, and honest story. They logically reasoned that they would be doing their readers a disservice by not showing the caricatures, and therefore chose to do so in the name of full disclosure and journalistic integrity.

Newsday went on to describe the idiotic response of New York Press management to their refusal to publish the pictures:
In a statement, New York Press General Manager Peter Polimino said the newspaper had come to the same conclusion as many other "responsible newspapers and media outlets" that have chosen to not run the cartoons.

"We felt the images were not critical for the editorial content to have merit, would not hinder our readers from making an informed opinion and only served to further fan the flame of a volatile situation," the statement said.
Of course, how silly of me. I mean, why would readers actually want to get a full perspective of a multi-faceted story? Why not just keep feeding readers the view of the story that you want them to have, right, Mr. Polimino? Without your all-knowing guidance, people might actually see for themselves that the Muslim reaction demonstrates a distinct reflex against free speech generally and journalistic freedom specifically. (I am going to go out on a limb and say that the New York Press had no problems publishing photographs of the crucified Jesus Christ in urine or the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung. Maybe that is because New York Press management knows that Christians won't react violently to blasphemy, but Muslims will.)

I am the first to assail the hypocritical bias of the mainstream media, but in my opinion, the (former) editorial staff of the New York Press deserves credit, not only for having the correct perspective on the story, but also for having the courage of their convictions to resign in the face of management's DNC-esque cut-and-run behavior. Imagine how much better our world would be if there were more journalists like them -- you know, ones who actually believe in free speech.


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