Some things are so stupid I just cannot, okay, and this apology was one of them. It was nothing more than cowardly knuckling-under to the loudest, most racist, riled-up mouthbreathers in the paper’s coverage area. To continually justify that apology, and talk about how maybe you did something else — the paper’s editor going on and on about how they didn’t cover 9/11 on 9/11 and that he wasn’t apologizing for covering Muslims but fornot covering The Most Heroic Anniversary Evar — just compounds the stupidity. Really, you’re a professional newspaperman, you’re going to pull the “taken out of context” dodge? Really?
We are sorry you are offended by today’s front page photo and story and certainly understand your point of view. Many feel the same way. We do not offer the stock excuses you cite. We should have balanced this story with one that showed our sensitivity to today’s historic importance. You will see tomorrow that our planned coverage of today’s 9/11 events is extensive, far more so than the coverage of this event on Friday. We apologize for what may appear to be our insensitivity to the historic significance of this day. Tomorrow’s newspaper will feature extensive coverage of the commemoration of today’s events.
“Our editors believed that 3,000 persons marking the passage of a religious observance and congregating in Portland to do so was news.I believe that decision was correct but I also believe we should have handled it in a more sensitive way.”
(Not for nothing, but this is why I automatically distrust anything designed to make newspapers “more responsive to the community.” Usually what the designers of such initiatives — reader review panels, citizen ombudsmen, etc — mean is making newspapers more likely to listen to ignorant-ass necks like the ones who called the Press Herald and bitched that they had to see evidence of Muslims in the world. Ooh, they might cancel their subscriptions. I would be shocked if five percent of them ever even thought of subscribing.)
Taking this editor at his word in the interview, and reading his apology in the spirit heclaims it was offered, his readers still would have been better served with a column telling them all to calm the fuck down. He’s claiming the error for which he apologized was not the coverage of Muslims but the lack of coverage of 9/11, which has become for these puling little morons their National Bigot Celebration Day of America Fuck Yeah. To which I still say, better to tell them to find a hobby that doesn’t involve bothering the rest of the world with their complexes.
Interesting, isn’t it, how newspaper people like to lecture readers that they’re too stupid to appreciate decent journalism, and then rush to avoid offending readers’ feelings when it serves the agenda of maintaining bigotry’s power?
In addition to being wrong and a blight on the soul you owe to God, being a cowardly apologetic little fraction of a man is quite simplyineffectiveas a method of making your angry readers happy. Apologizing to bigots doesn’t get the bigots off your case. It just makes the people who aren’t bigots, who do like to see the world as it is reflected and sold back to them as their newspaper, hate you for backing down from such a basic test of your humanity.
This shit isn’t rocket science. You do this, and you wind up spending all your time justifying why you had to do the thing you knew deep down was wrong and stupid, flapping around getting twice as much flak as you would have had you stuck to the right thing and done it. Which in this case would have been to tell the hypersensitive wankers calling you where they could shove their opinions, because 1953 is gone and it isn’t coming back and screw you, basically, for ruining everybody’s day.
I think my favorite part of this whole massive media fail is the part where the editor blames Facebook, Twitter and the 24-hour news cycle (that ever-present villain) for making him and his colleagues work hard:
Earlier this week, I welcomed a former colleague back into the news business.He retired at a young age after successful stints as a reporter,editor, and then publisher of one of the country’s largest newspapers.
I told him he was about to witness a new world in media, a world where 24/7 is not a cliché but a way of life for us. We literally work around the clock in order to contend with the speed of communication.
On Saturday morning, he witnessed what I was talking about.
Readers began writing to me and to our paper and website en masse, criticizing our decision on coverage and story play of the local observance of the end of Ramadan by local Muslims.
We began answering them immediately and directly by e-mail and we posted responses on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website. A good eight hours into the day, our editors were still working from home to keep up with a necessary response to our customers. Some managers came to the office on what was supposed to be a day off.
Holy shit. Some people came in on their day off to deal with idiots! They worked a whole eight hours talking to readers! My GOD. This new media world we live in!
Why, it’s almost like nobody made concentrated letter-writing and phone-calling efforts to influence media coverage of certain issues long before the Interwebs came along and killed your ability to take the afternoon off for some golf. Nobody ever sent telegrams to the papers protesting stories or advocating positions. No way. This is all new to us, and we came in on our days off to handle it, so be grateful for how we fucked it up.