All the news that’s fit to censor

Reuters photo in today’s R-J.

Today for the first time the Las Vegas newspaper has printed an image of one of the Charlie Hebdo infamous Muhammad cartoons — in this case the cover of the post-attack issue of the French satirical newspaper. The photo is on an inside page.

Elsewhere the issue of whether to publish such “offensive” cartoons continues to roil journalists.

The New York Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan even questioned her own boss’ decision to not publish any such image, saying the cover of the latest issue was newsworthy.

“I can understand why The Times would not have published ‘the most incendiary images,’ as the executive editor, Dean Baquet, described them last week. He felt those extreme cartoons would not have been necessary to illustrate the story about the terrorist attack that killed eight members of the satirical newspaper’s staff,” Sullivan writes.

But then she concludes:

“Here’s my take: The new cover image of Charlie Hebdo is an important part of a story that has gripped the world’s attention over the past week.

“The cartoon itself, while it may disturb the sensibilities of a small percentage of Times readers, is neither shocking nor gratuitously offensive. And it has, undoubtedly, significant news value.”

Over at NPR this is its position:

“At this time, NPR is not posting images of Charlie Hebdo‘s most controversial cartoons – just as it did not post such images during earlier controversies involving the magazine and a Danish cartoonist’s caricatures of the prophet. The New York Times has taken the same position. The Washington Post‘s editorial board has put one of Charlie Hebdo‘s Prophet Muhammad covers on the print version of its op-ed pages, but not online. News editors at NPR and other organizations continually review their judgments on these types of issues when the materials are potentially offensive because of their religious, racial or sexual content. That review process will continue.”

The Associated Press has stated:

“AP tries hard not to be a conveyor belt for images and actions aimed at mocking or provoking people on the basis of religion, race or sexual orientation. We did not run the ‘Danish cartoons’ mocking Muhammad in 2005, or the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the same type. While we run many photos that are politically or socially provocative, there are areas verging on hate speech and actions where we feel it is right to be cautious.

“This policy is consistent with our approach to sound bites and text reporting, where we avoid racist, religious and sexual slurs.”

Reuters has posted a few of the Muhammad cartoons. The Las Vegas newspaper did publish one of the so-called Dutch cartoons several years ago under previous management.


A columnist laments over self-censorship

In today’s Las Vegas newspaper columnist Rich Lowry comments about the timidness of news outlets that have refused to publish any of the cartoons from Charlie Hebdo:

“Some press outlets pixilated or cropped out the covers of Charlie Hebdo in their coverage of the Paris attacks, as if they were the works of obscenity that the attackers consider them.”

This is as close as the Las Vegas newspaper has come to publishing any of Charlie Hebdo cartoons that prompted the attack on the satirical Paris newspaper:

Reuters photo

Reuters photo

AP, which the R-J no longer uses, explained online why it is not posting the cartoons.

Reuters, however, apparently has no such qualm and posted this photo:

Talk is cheap, free speech isn’t …

Tell me again, Mr. President, about how Islam is a religion of peace, fairness and tolerance.

First, the office of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was destroyed by a firebomb after it published cartoons depicting Muhammad, now 12 people at its current office have been killed by gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar.”

Obama called the attack “cowardly, evil” and Secretary of State John Kerry called the slain journalists “martyrs of freedom.”

Then there was this ad that ran in Pakistan disowning a certain film in which Obama says in the United States “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says “we absolutely reject content and message.”

And Charlie Hebdo ran some anti-Muslim cartoons a couple of years ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We don’t question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it.”