Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Grey Lady and Charlie

The New York Times has chosen not to reprint controversial cartoons from Charlie Hebdo.  Some have condemned this decision.

I think they gravely misunderstand the kind of paper the NYT is. It is the kind of paper, as my father would say, that considers itself a guest in the family home, and acts accordingly.

That means, for example, no cussing in front of the children. Or quoting cussing, unless the story absolutely, positively demands it.

If you offend your readers, you don't get invited back. Which is bad for business, but also make it impossible to tell the stories you want to tell to that family.

Similarly, the Times is fairly reticent about photographs of full frontal nudity or gore, or showing the faces of murder victims, unless absolutely essential to telling the story properly. Even though many of their readers would not be offended by this, or by quoted profanity.

The choice not to reprint the controversial cartoons is, I think, an appropriate one for the Times. given the kind of newspaper they are. They have conveyed the essence of the story adequately by describing the cartoons in words.


Joshua L. Lyle said...

You're misrepresenting Popehat. Ken's complaint was not that they're spineless, but that they're hypocritical about their standards of propriety and dissembling about their reasons for applying disproportionately high standards of propriety in this instance.

Will McLean said...

Joshua, i don't think so I said that some, including Ken White, condemn the NYT decision not to reprint Charlie Hebdo cartoons. If Ken White does *not* condemn the decision, he can correct me.

It is difficult to tell what White's actual complaint is, since he has entirely used the annoyingly disingenuous JAQing off format. Is your sister a Thespian? But I'm pretty sure he condemns the current NYT policy.

"I'm just asking questions"