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Showing cartoons isn't worth hurt to readers
Seattle Times ^ | 2/12/2006 | Mike Fancher

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. mfancher@seattletimes.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">mfancher@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: appeasement; cartoonjihad; cartoons; censorship; cowards; dhimmis; dhimmitude; doublestandard; jihad; liberalmedia; liberalpropaganda; mediaphonies; profilesincowardice; seattle; stockholmsyndrome
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I would hope everyone would e-mail the times and let them know how you feel about this. I'm ticked off to say the least.
1 posted on 02/19/2006 9:05:56 AM PST by Jefflg
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To: Jefflg

2 posted on 02/19/2006 9:07:07 AM PST by Fenris6 (3 Purple Hearts in 4 months w/o missing a day of work? He's either John Rambo or a Fraud)
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To: Jefflg
I'm ticked off to say the least.

Don't get too ticked off at cowardly and illogical liberal arguments. It's not worth the heartache.

3 posted on 02/19/2006 9:12:01 AM PST by 68skylark
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To: Jefflg

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.


4 posted on 02/19/2006 9:12:02 AM PST by Piranha
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: Jefflg

"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.


6 posted on 02/19/2006 9:13:57 AM PST by ansel12
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To: Jefflg

How long before they run something disrespectful to Christians and then tell those that complain to be more tolerant.

I give it 6 months.


7 posted on 02/19/2006 9:14:30 AM PST by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: Jefflg
So can we EXPECT less Bush, Christianity and GOP bashing in the near future?
8 posted on 02/19/2006 9:14:34 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God))
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To: Jefflg
The spirit behind this approach is that most of the time there are thoughtful, sensitive ways to inform readers.
Nice to see that the journalist elites are protecting our sensitivities. I'll remember that the next time they report on anything done by Bush, Christians, Jews, or conservatives in general. I'm sure the same sensitivity will be on display. /sarc

 

9 posted on 02/19/2006 9:14:36 AM PST by peyton randolph (As long is it does me no harm, I don't care if one worships Elmer Fudd.)
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To: Jefflg
But do they publish cartoons reflecting God, Jews and Christians in a bad light? How about gun owners?

Or is it the only offended people they worry about are the peaceful beheaders of Islam?
10 posted on 02/19/2006 9:15:38 AM PST by PeteB570 (Guns, what real men want for Christmas)
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To: Jefflg
We haven't published the cartoons because we believe they would needlessly and deeply offend a portion of our readers

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.

11 posted on 02/19/2006 9:15:40 AM PST by technomage (NEVER underestimate the depths to which liberals will stoop for power.)
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To: Jefflg

And...it begins...


12 posted on 02/19/2006 9:17:18 AM PST by Hildy (The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth)
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To: Jefflg

Translation: We're Chickens!

Pray for W and Our Freedom Fighters


13 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:07 AM PST by bray (GW protects Americans while DinocRats protect Al Queda)
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To: Jefflg
No one in Washington state could possibly be offended by anything as avant garde as a cartoon.

These guys want us to believe Washingtonians are "tender" and "sweet".

Gad!

14 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:11 AM PST by muawiyah (-)
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To: Piranha

bump


15 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:29 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: Jefflg
"I just don't understand the point of intentionally offending a portion of our readers."

Yet they do just that with their editorial cartoons everyday.

16 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:36 AM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Jefflg

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.



If it was piss Christ they would run over their own grandmothers to print it.


17 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:38 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Islam, Religion of Peace and they'll kill you to prove it.)
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To: technomage
The Seattle Times is so politically correct, it won't even print the nickname of the Washington, DC professional football team (Redskins).

Never let journalism stand in the way of political correctness.
18 posted on 02/19/2006 9:18:51 AM PST by BW2221
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To: Jefflg

---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.


19 posted on 02/19/2006 9:19:39 AM PST by claudiustg (Delenda est Iran!)
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To: Jefflg

These are the same people who don’t mind showing crucifixes photographed in human urine. I guess they feel only Muslims are capable of being offended


20 posted on 02/19/2006 9:20:47 AM PST by Mustard Plaster
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To: BW2221
They're the "Skins". The corporatists who own the team call them the "Red Skins". But as everybody knows, in sports there are really only two teams: The Shirts, and The Skins.

Be good for the Seattle gurus to get in synch with the people in the MidAtlantic on the matter.

21 posted on 02/19/2006 9:21:02 AM PST by muawiyah (-)
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To: Capt. Tom
I just e-mailed them and asked them if they printed the Abu Grab photos. If they answer yes, I will open fire on them. - tom

Don't bother waiting for a reply: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002808522_abuse16.html

22 posted on 02/19/2006 9:21:44 AM PST by mwyounce
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To: Jefflg
How ironic. Virtually ALL European newspapers have published the cartoons.

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.

23 posted on 02/19/2006 9:22:12 AM PST by stockstrader
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To: Jefflg

Dear Editor:

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.


24 posted on 02/19/2006 9:22:18 AM PST by Fenris6 (3 Purple Hearts in 4 months w/o missing a day of work? He's either John Rambo or a Fraud)
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To: Capt. Tom
Please ask them if they ever printed this:


25 posted on 02/19/2006 9:23:04 AM PST by bill1952 ("All that we do is done with an eye towards something else.")
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To: BW2221

And never let the truth stand in the way of "journalism".


26 posted on 02/19/2006 9:23:19 AM PST by Just Lori (Trying to reason with a liberal is like sucking spaghetti through a straw)
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To: Jefflg
"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."

The Seattle Times cartoon for Wednesday, January 11, 2006:


27 posted on 02/19/2006 9:24:10 AM PST by Polybius
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To: Jefflg
Press freedom means we have the right to publish or not publish based on our judgment of what serves readers.

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.

28 posted on 02/19/2006 9:24:23 AM PST by solitas (So what if I support an OS that has fewer flaws than yours? 'Mystic' dual 500 G4's, OSX.4.2)
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To: Hildy
People like you who lack the courage to publish all of the news are inviting the islamic's to take away all of our freedoms. You are un-American and fall into the cowardly chicken crap category.
By the time this is over and we have evicted the evil from our country you will have learned just how much American Blood has been spilled because of your cowards mentality. You took the easy way out and they were counting on it.
29 posted on 02/19/2006 9:24:25 AM PST by oldenuff2no
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To: Dog Gone
Bingo!! You are 100% correct. They do precisely that with their cartoons slamming the President, the Bush Administration and the President's supporters almost EVERY DAY!

Yet they have decdied that 'capitulation and appeasement' is the way to go here. Amazing.

30 posted on 02/19/2006 9:26:42 AM PST by stockstrader
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To: Capt. Tom
Also, look what else they published:

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/22/1082616264208.html

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."

31 posted on 02/19/2006 9:30:36 AM PST by mwyounce
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To: Jefflg
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.

Hey at least I portray him as Bill O'Reilly!


32 posted on 02/19/2006 9:31:01 AM PST by Bommer (Ted Kennedy - Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life!)
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To: Jefflg

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.


33 posted on 02/19/2006 9:48:15 AM PST by hershey
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To: Bommer

Awesome!


34 posted on 02/19/2006 9:54:03 AM PST by L98Fiero
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To: Capt. Tom
"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.

Here's a nice photo from their front page mom, dad and the kids can sit down and enjoy together at breakfast.


Seattle Times
35 posted on 02/19/2006 10:01:14 AM PST by Krankor (T)
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To: Jefflg

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?


36 posted on 02/19/2006 10:01:35 AM PST by SouthCarolinaKit
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To: hershey

"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."


37 posted on 02/19/2006 10:01:46 AM PST by Clioman
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To: Jefflg

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?


38 posted on 02/19/2006 10:04:55 AM PST by Graymatter (Yes and...what are we going to do about it?)
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To: Jefflg

Yellow Journalism by yellow journalists.


39 posted on 02/19/2006 10:05:26 AM PST by Lexington Green (Hollywood Patriot - Now THERE'S an oxymoron.)
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To: Jefflg

"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."


40 posted on 02/19/2006 10:07:05 AM PST by Graymatter (Yes and...what are we going to do about it?)
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To: Jefflg
In March 2000, CNN showed a picture of the Virgin Mary made out of dung:
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/STYLE/arts/03/27/museum.flap/index.html
Right there on CNN’s website you have a picture of "The Holy Virgin Mary" by British artist Chris Ofili. He used elephant dung and images of female genitalia in that ‘work’.

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 CNN’s 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.”
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/02/05/cartoon.protests/index.html
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.

Hypocrisy?
Do not trust the MSM.

41 posted on 02/19/2006 10:09:17 AM PST by Bon mots
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Though I bet the editiors have no problem with reporting things which hurt Christian or conservative readers.


42 posted on 02/19/2006 10:16:48 AM PST by Republic_of_Secession.
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To: Jefflg
Utter cowardice dressed up in fine-sounding words. The truth of the matter is that the Times is just fine offending people who don't shoot back - shall we take a look at the body of work of David Horsey on conservatives, for example? With those who can make a credible threat of ending the Times's precious freedom with a firebomb they are all peace and light. This is beyond disgusting.

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.

43 posted on 02/19/2006 10:23:09 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: technomage

Agreed!


44 posted on 02/19/2006 10:30:56 AM PST by Frank_2001
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To: Jefflg
Why is it ok for the SeaTimes to print cartoons disparaging Israel and Christians with pictures of fences in the figure of the Star of David, and crucifixes in jars of urine????
Oh, I forgot, it's a private paper that prints what it wants not to serve the readership ... oh well, pretty soon they'll be just an advertising rag with nothing but classified ads ... they recently laid off about a hundred or more staff ... some with over 20 years of service ....
45 posted on 02/19/2006 10:33:07 AM PST by SkyDancer ("I'd Rather Go Hunting With Cheney Than Ride With Ted Kennedy Over A Bridge")
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To: Capt. Tom
Seattletimes is a hate America paper.
They ran the photos for 3 months.
I can't remember for sure but I think they ran the Virgin Mary
cartoon. This isn't a family paper it's owned by a family.
his mixing of words. If your a God fearing person they will mock you. I stopped paying for it 15 years ago, but visit on line.
46 posted on 02/19/2006 10:33:29 AM PST by Jefflg
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To: Billthedrill
Exactly. Christians responded with a 'shrug' at the offensive artwork shown on a regular basis in the MSM--so the media had no problem continuing to offend them.

But when threats and intimidation become the norm from muslims, the liberal MSM responds with 'appeasement and total capitulation' expected from 'COWERING SHEEP'!

47 posted on 02/19/2006 10:34:12 AM PST by stockstrader
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To: Jefflg

Thoughtful and respectable my foot! Cowardly and boot licking is more like it!


48 posted on 02/19/2006 10:34:28 AM PST by vladog
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To: Jefflg

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.


49 posted on 02/19/2006 10:48:58 AM PST by D-Chivas
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To: Capt. Tom
just e-mailed them and asked them if they printed the Abu Grab photos.

Does this qualify?

There may have been earlier ones published by the paper, but I refuse to register to find out.

50 posted on 02/19/2006 10:57:06 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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