Skip to comments.Showing cartoons isn't worth hurt to readers
Posted on 02/19/2006 9:05:55 AM PST by Jefflg
By Mike Fancher
Seattle Times executive editor
Why hasn't The Seattle Times published the Danish cartoons that sparked an international crisis?
Readers who have asked that question see it as central to a complicated set of issues involving free expression, religious tolerance and international conflict. Those issues are complicated, but the answer to the central question is simple. We haven't published the cartoons because we believe they would needlessly and deeply offend a portion of our readers. That is the standard we routinely apply to potentially offensive material, asking ourselves whether there it is a compelling journalistic reason to publish.
The standard applies broadly to language, photos and illustrations. For example, our policy on the use of potentially offensive language says, in part: "The Seattle Times recognizes that racial, ethnic, religious and other slurs are very hurtful to many readers, so we use them in the newspaper only when they are absolutely essential to the reader's understanding.
"In the same vein, this is a family newspaper, and we want to encourage parents to read it with their children, not to have to hide it from them. Difficult subjects are unavoidable in news coverage, but profane and vulgar language almost always is avoidable. Therefore, we apply the same standard as we do with slurs: the language must be absolutely necessary to the reader's understanding."
Images can have even greater impact than words. In the case of highly offensive photographs and images, we use them only in a case where a written description would not suffice for readers' understanding of an important story.
The spirit behind this approach is that most of the time there are thoughtful, sensitive ways to inform readers. Because we respect readers, we are obligated to thoroughly explore those alternatives.
In the case of the Danish cartoons, some readers have said they don't understand the outrage that has led to embassy burnings, death threats and the killing of some protesters. They wonder whether their understanding would be enhanced by seeing the images, but that is doubtful.
"Why would a reader expect to be able to make a ruling on whether the cartoons are offensive if he or she is not Muslim?" asked David Birdwell, Times nation / world editor. "That's the whole point of the story: Muslims see them as blasphemous; others don't."
The essence of the cartoons is easily described in words. They depict the Prophet Muhammad in various ways, including one with a bomb-shaped turban with a lighted fuse. The issue for Muslims isn't just how he is portrayed but that he is portrayed at all.
So our coverage has explored why Muslims generally abhor any depiction of the prophet, as well as the international context in which outrage has become violent.
We've done this extensively in the pages of The Times, and even more so at seattletimes.com.
Some readers have argued that not publishing the images amounts to censorship and a failure to defend press freedom. We don't see it that way. Press freedom means we have the right to publish or not publish based on our judgment of what serves readers.
Birdwell said: "We can run anything we want to, but we have a responsibility to be sensitive to people. Freedom of the press isn't about just running anything you want."
Other readers wonder if we are intimidated by the outraged reactions elsewhere. "That has nothing to do with it in my mind," Birdwell said. "I just don't understand the point of intentionally offending a portion of our readers."
For readers who want to see the images, our Web site offers a link to a reproduction of the original Danish newspaper page. Enabling you to take the step to see them if you choose is far different from bringing them into your home in the pages of your newspaper.
We don't expect that every reader will agree with every decision we make, but we do hope readers see our news judgment as thoughtful and respectful. email@example.com
Inside The Times appears in the Sunday Seattle Times. If you have a comment on news coverage, write to Michael R. Fancher, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, call 206-464-3310 or send e-mail to seattletimes.com">firstname.lastname@example.org. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company
Don't get too ticked off at cowardly and illogical liberal arguments. It's not worth the heartache.
The editor of the small Danish newspaper is the small boy who finally yelled at the emperor of multiculturalism that, in fact, the emperor has no clothes.
Craven Western newspapers can pretend that this didn't happen, but it can never be stuffed back into the box.
"So our coverage has explored why Muslims generally abhor any depiction of the prophet, as well as the international context in which outrage has become violent.
We've done this extensively in the pages of The Times, and even more so at seattletimes.com."
You people want all those naked facts, but we know them, have already processed them, now here is how you should think on this story.
How long before they run something disrespectful to Christians and then tell those that complain to be more tolerant.
I give it 6 months.
Although I do not read the Seattle papers (in fact, I read no papers other than IBD), I would bet my bottom dollar that they have published cartoons that offend Christians, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, etc.
What a lame and infantile excuse! They are cowards, just like most liberals.
Translation: We're Chickens!
Pray for W and Our Freedom Fighters
These guys want us to believe Washingtonians are "tender" and "sweet".
Yet they do just that with their editorial cartoons everyday.
The Seattle Times recognizes that racial, ethnic, religious and other slurs are very hurtful to many readers, so we use them in the newspaper only when they are absolutely essential to the reader's understanding.
---The issue for Muslims isn't just how he is portrayed but that he is portrayed at all.---
The Muslims do in fact portray the Prophet when and where it suits them. No offense, but they are idol worshipping primitives of the first order.
These are the same people who dont mind showing crucifixes photographed in human urine. I guess they feel only Muslims are capable of being offended
Be good for the Seattle gurus to get in synch with the people in the MidAtlantic on the matter.
Don't bother waiting for a reply: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002808522_abuse16.html
Yet, the liberal MSM (except for Fox and a few local newspapers) in this country have collectively decided that intimidation DOES work-- and that "capitulation and appeasement" is the proper way to deal with a bully. Go figure.
Who knew? All this time I've been writing, boycotting, organizing peaceful protests, etc - when all I really needed to do was launch few molotov cocktails. Thanks for the tip.
And never let the truth stand in the way of "journalism".
The Seattle Times cartoon for Wednesday, January 11, 2006:
And a free market means that readers who aren't seeing/getting what they want - because of the 'sensibilities' of a certain, 'motivated' few - means they can tell you to go pound sand up your @$$ and starve to death for lack of subscribers.
Newspapers originally came into being to inform the masses; but not at the discomfiture of the several (as is apparently your position) - you will never get 100% acceptance of an article, and you demonstrably show material offensive to the many because otherwise a few will cry "censorship", so I put it to you: explain why you do the reverse in THIS case, or be justifiably considered the $h¡ that most think you are.
Yet they have decdied that 'capitulation and appeasement' is the way to go here. Amazing.
Last weekend, a newspaper in Seattle, Washington, published a rare photograph of coffins containing the bodies of American soldiers killed in the war in Iraq.
The editor of The Seattle Times, Mike Fancher, said he decided to publish the photograph on the front page because it was "undeniably newsworthy".
The paper's managing editor, David Boardman, told Editor and Publisher this week that "we weren't attempting to convey any sort of political message". Referring to the military ban on photographs of coffins, he said: "The Administration cannot tell us what we can and cannot publish."
When Muslims come up with more demands, will the Times think twice about yielding? After all, this was just about free speech. No big deal.
I guess American troops have no feelings because the
Old Press seems to have no problems demeaning them with the Abu Graib photos; ditto for Christians with their Piss Christ
endorsement. Can anyone spell hypocrisy without the MSM smack dab in the middle of it?
"We here at the Seattle Times would be happy to pay the dhimmi tax in order to be left to alone, praise Allah. But we don't know where to mail the check."
I wonder if they will refuse to print any letters to the editor that disagree with this decision. Or that challenge their sincerity. After all, we can't have the kiddies reading letters that advocate hate speech or hurt the feelings of journalists.
I think we're in a war and I should be able to say, "Kill the enemy." Instead, I shouldn't even look at a cartoon?
Yellow Journalism by yellow journalists.
"We don't expect that every reader will agree with every decision we make, but we do hope readers see our news judgment as thoughtful and respectful. If not, feel free to call us at 1-800-EAT-PORK."
This garbage posing as art was deemed offensive to Christians. CNN had no qualms about showing it and offending Christians. It has remained on their web site until today. Nearly five years now.
In fact, if you click on the link above, you will see this work - still proudly displayed on CNNs website.
Now the violent Muslims are rampaging and burning things - again - about a few cartoons, and CNN says, CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam.
Follow this link and read the last line in the article.
The New York Times ran the same photo about a week ago. In print and on the web.
Do not trust the MSM.
Though I bet the editiors have no problem with reporting things which hurt Christian or conservative readers.
What will happen is that which has happened before - the Times will depend up its political opponents to protect it and curse them safely for having done so.
But when threats and intimidation become the norm from muslims, the liberal MSM responds with 'appeasement and total capitulation' expected from 'COWERING SHEEP'!
Thoughtful and respectable my foot! Cowardly and boot licking is more like it!
If I were a terrorizing, bomb-making Islamofascist, I'd definitely move to some pansy town like Seattle to practice my trade, what with a limp newspaper like this being published there.
Does this qualify?
There may have been earlier ones published by the paper, but I refuse to register to find out.
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