Wednesday, January 14, 2015

After Charlie Attack, Media Responsiveness To Religious Sensiivities Is Still An Issue

In the aftermath of last week's terrorist massacre at Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, it has become clear that the issue of the appropriate media response to religious sensibilities remains unresolved.  Two stories show the ongoing problem. Haaretz yesterday strongly criticized the ultra-Orthodox Israeli paper HaMevaser for publishing only a photoshopped version of the iconic photo of world leaders walking arm-in-arm in the Paris rally for free speech and religious liberty.  Like many ultra-Orthodox papers, HaMevaser will not publish photos of women because of Jewish religious concerns about modesty.  In the photo of the Paris march, German Chancellor Angela Merkel  has been removed, as have other women leaders. [Thanks to Douglas Carver for the lead.]

Meanwhile mainstream news media split over whether to carry a photo of the defiant cover of the post-massacre issue of Charlie Hebdo.  As reported by Malaysia Chronicle, the cover shows Muhammad crying while holding up a "Je suis Charlie" sign. The drawing is captioned "Tout Est Pardonne" (All Is Forgiven). Outlets picturing the cover include the Malaysian Chronicle, Fox News, CBS News, the BBC, Germany's ARD, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, France's Liberation, Britain's The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Among those choosing to merely describe the cover are CNN, NBC News, NPR, Britain's Daily Mail, The New York Times and the Associated Press. These media expressed concern not only about offending Muslims, but also about protecting their employees stationed around the world. German investigative journalist Gunter Wallraff said of those not showing the cover: "I don't call that sensitivity, I call it cowardice. If everyone follow that line, they [the Islamists] will have won."