340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Took the words right out of my mouth.

This week's been a little crazy, so today all you get is a copied-and-pasted blurb from Mediascout which pretty well sums up my reaction to Ezra Levant's hypocritical stance regarding the roles and responsibilities of news media:


by Joe Boughner
February 16, 2006

The critical eyes of the media have turned upon themselves in recent weeks. The publication of several caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in papers across the Western world prompted much debate about the role of the free press and the natural limits on those freedoms in the name of tolerance, respect and editorial credibility. In publishing the images in his Western Standard magazine, publisher Ezra Levant furthered that debate. Other publications published the images in defence of press freedom; Levant said he believed the media is responsible for telling the whole story and printing the images is part of that. For all the advances he made in the free press debate, however, Levant set himself and his cause back a few steps with his defence of the most recent controversy to come from his magazine. In justifying the printing of an anonymous quote suggesting Ralph Klein’s wife (a Métis) would go back to being “just another Indian” when the premier left office, Levant dismissed his critics saying it was just another case of “shoot the messenger.” Levant said Klein and his wife had every right to be upset with the unnamed “friend’ who made the comment, but that the Western Standard was just reporting what was said.

To reduce the role of the press to simply that of messenger is, at best, irresponsible. The media are responsible for what they print—both legally and ethically. The fact that the quote came from an anonymous source only makes Levant’s case weaker. What newsworthy element is added by having an anonymous source make a disparaging comment about the premier’s wife? Without passing judgement on the decision one way or the other, Levant’s case for printing the caricatures was in and of itself valid—a similar justification will likely be used if anyone questions the printing of more photos from Abu Ghraib despite the questionable news value (new photos don't necessarily represent evidence of new abuses). But his decision to absolve himself of responsibility for the “Indian” quote is an affront to the very freedom first cited in defence of the controversial cartoons. Press freedom exists so journalists can responsibly go in search of truth and challenge the status quo—not so anonymous sources can make inappropriate comments.


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