Choosing newspaper content not always easy

Last week, the Globe and Mail ran a poll asking readers the question: “If you were owners of a paper, would you have published the cartoon showing Mohammed?”
That question followed an online discussion between their cartoonist and the general public.
The final result was evenly split among those supporting the right to publish the cartoon and those saying it should not be run.
In the case of the cartoon showing Mohammed, other newspapers across Europe chose to run it in support of the rights of a free press. That includes the right to make editorial comment about subjects.
One of the ways newspapers traditionally have used to make comment is in the editorial cartoon. It is a vehicle that often pokes fun of leaders, countries, and philosophies in a way that makes one question ideas, causes, political parties, and governments.
In Islam, the religion, as one of its tenets, sets out that pictures of Mohammed should not be drawn nor idols made. And from world reaction, it appears to be a very strong belief.
In the western world with our freedoms, should the press be held to the same standard as in Muslim countries. Should newspapers, and other media outlets, uphold all the laws and traditions of the great religions of the world.
Editors all over the world wrestle with the content of their papers every day. Daily reporters and editors are given tips about news, which come from a great variety of places—sometimes from the street.
Sometimes, they filter down from a government office. Other times, they filter in from businesses or overheard business discussions in public places.
Seemingly, all rumours have a grain of truth to them. Newspapers are expected to sift through these rumours and find those grains of truth. Then they must corroborate that information before writing and publishing the stories.
Readers would expect nothing less than the truth.
Sometimes stories require newspapers to step back and question whether or not publishing an article is a good thing. For instance, one of the most difficult decisions that has been faced by editors of community newspapers across Canada is the writing about suicides of young people in their community.
Should the story be front page, or treated as other deaths in the community. Somewhere in Canada, an editor is grappling with that very question this week.
Not all stories can be written positively. Not every person will be happy with all the content in the paper every week. The staff works long and hard to be accurate about the happenings in the district.
Each week we make choices about the stories and pictures in the paper. You can be assured that we do everything we can to make sure they are accurate and truthful.
And when rumours or stories cannot be verified, we will choose not to run them.

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