Sep 9, 2010

How to cover a book burning

Whatever ridiculous forces put a fringe Florida pastor on our front pages and TV screens, and into the mouths of our president and top Pentagon officials, there's little doubt that Terry Jones' planned Quran burning on Sept. 11 will be covered. Indeed, the story has already taken root in the Muslim world, and the reverberations are very real.

So how should a news organization cover this publicity stunt?

The Associated Press has a memo outlining its intentions, including a policy that the news service "will not distribute images or audio that specifically show Qurans being burned, and will not provide detailed text descriptions of the burning."

 Poynter ethics leader Kelly McBride offers her take here, noting that even ugly events like this demand coverage: "[P]art of our job as journalists is to document events. When we ignore acts of hate, no one has the opportunity to react, to condemn them or to proclaim a different belief system."

No comments: