Why the Telegraph, Mirror, Sun and others opted not to show this week's Charlie Hebdo cover - Press Gazette

Why the Telegraph, Mirror, Sun and others opted not to show this week's Charlie Hebdo cover

Many editors faced the toughest decision of their careers this week as they wrestled with whether or not to publish the front page of Charlie Hebdo depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Whilst publishing the front page is central to the story and editorially justified, depictions of Muhammad cause genunine offence to many Muslims and there are also the safety concerns.

Some 12 people were murdered last week apparently because Charlie Hebdo published cartoons depicting Muhammad so the risks are clear, especially for news organisations with correspondents and bureaux in Islamic countries.

Among those to picture the cartoon in some form were The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, BBC, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Yahoo News.

Press Gazette asked some of the news organsatons who didn't publish publish the cartoon what their reason was.

Daily Express: No comment.

Daily/Sunday Mirror: Alison Phillips, the Mirror’s weekend editor, wrote in an opinion column on Tuesday: “Fantastically, in Britain today we have the freedom to speak and think whenever we wish. But not to speak if we wish, too. Not to offend people. To respect them.”

Daily Star: No comment.

Evening Standard: No comment.

Mail Online/Daily Mai: No comment, but Stephen Gover writing in the Daily Mail yesterday said: "Whether in the case of Islam or Christianity — and the magazine sometimes also extends its animus towards the Jewish faith — the purpose is to shock and dishearten those of religious persuasion. There is no pity or respect or kindness. Charlie Hebdo hates all religion, and mocks all its adherents."

At Sky News a spokesperson said: “Sky News has given extensive coverage to this story and to the highly controversial issues surrounding it, which have been debated on TV and across our other platforms on numerous occasions over the last few days.

“As with any controversial story, the issue of publication of the cartoons has been subject to rigorous editorial scrutiny and discussions – which will continue.

“Currently, Sky News will not be broadcasting these images on any of its platforms.”

The Sun: No comment, but speaking as part of a Sky News debate, managing editor of Stig Abell said: “We exercise freedom of expression by making editorial judgments about what to put in the paper yesterday and now we’re being told we’re wrong about exercising whatever judgment we made.

“I don’t think anyone would accuse the newspaper of being timid or frightened to offend people, indeed many of the people who might criticise us for not running this image are the sort of people who regularly pillory us for being offensive.”

The Telegraph: In an editorial published on the day of the attack it said that “any suggestion that a publication failing to follow Charlie Hebdo’s example is caving into terrorism is absurd: we all make editorial decisions to avoid offending people that have nothing to do with appeasing militant Islamists.”

Press Gazette also opted not to publish the Charlie Hebdo front page. Editor Dominic Ponsford said: "It was a decision which I felt needed to be made as a company, rather than unilaterally by me as editor, and because of both the safety and respect/offence considerations it was not clear cut. Because of those safety/offence issues we decided not to publish it."



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