Editor should think before he writes
On Sept. 11, publisher and editor Richard L. Connor, of The Portland Press Herald in Maine, ran a tribute to the Muslim Ramadan festivities as their front-page story. This sparked uproar from the papers readers who strongly voiced their opposition to the editor's decision.
The Portland Press Herald was caught off guard by the great outrage they received in angry letters, tweets and Facebook comments. Subscriber Kevin LaPoint wrote, " I cannot fathom the reasoning behind The Press Herald's celebrating the end of the Ramadan and relegating the horrific attacks which this country suffered on that day to second-page status. Appalling."
Letter upon letter, each one with equal fury, made its way across the editor's desk. Due to this, Connor released an apology to his readers: " We are sorry you are offended by today's front page photo and story and certainly understand your point of view." He goes on to apologize for not balancing the story more appropriately and for what seemed to be his staff's "insensitivity" to the "historic significance of the day." Connor finishes his apology by admitting that he and his staff are only human and are capable of making mistakes. This letter of apology did nothing more than spark more debate among those who supported the first publication of the cover story.
Readers and subscribers then wrote, complaining that the apology letter was unnecessary and that it was perpetuating the stereotype that all Muslims believe in and support terrorism. One asked, "What was the horrible offense for which Mr. Connor saw fit to apologize?" Many saw the front-page coverage of the Ramadan festivities as nothing more than a tribute to a peaceful yearly celebration.
Subsequently Connor released a second apology, apologizing for his first apology-yes seriously. "I meant to apologize for what we did not print. I was in no way apologizing for what we did print in a deservedly prominent position – a striking photo of our local Muslim community in prayer."
As journalists it is our duty to report the news, however, contentious issues such as this require delicate handling and a more tactful delivery. There is nothing wrong with publishing an article on the Ramadan festivities, but running it as the front-page story on September 11, was totally inappropriate.
As a writer it is our job to report and write objectively, and deliver the news to the readers. Connor should not have felt the need to apologize for presenting the latest news. However, He showed general disregard to the thousands of Americans who lost their lives that day and lacked better judgment in his decision to run the Ramadan story on the front page of the Sept. 11 issue.