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Global News Outlets Divided Over Whether to Show New Charlie Hebdo Cover
By SP_COP on January 13, 2015 | From
Global News Outlets Divided Over Whether to Show New Charlie Hebdo Cover The issue of whether to display the new cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which depicts a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, has split media outlets in the U.S. and overseas.

The image, showing Muhammad crying and holding up a "Je suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All Is Forgiven," was blasted across the Internet Monday ahead of the magazine's publication, the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since terrorists attacked its offices, killing 12 people, on Jan. 7.

The "Je suis Charlie" expression of solidarity appeared online immediately afterward. The expression, which means "I am Charlie," has become the official slogan in protest against the attacks, and "Je suis Charlie" signs were everywhere in Paris on Sunday when more than a million people took to the streets in a mass demonstration.

The new Charlie Hebdo cartoon was shown on television on Fox News, CBS News, the BBC, Germany's ARD and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and printed in several newspapers, including France's Liberation, The Guardian in Britain, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

But many news outlets, including NBC News, NPR, Britain's Daily Mail, The New York Times and the Associated Press, chose not to show the cartoon, choosing instead to describe its content to their audience. At issue is whether the news value of the image outweighs its potential to offend. Depicting images of the Prophet Muhammad is considered a sacrilegious act by many Muslims. Outlets that chose not to show the cartoon, or cropped or blurred the offensive images, cited cultural sensitivity and standards of decency as reasons.

Many chose to only briefly show the Charlie Hebdo cover as the BBC did on its Newsnight program, but it kept the image offline. Others, including Britain's The Guardian and The Independent newspapers, ran the cartoon but included a warning that it could offend some readers.

In France, there was no such hesitation. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were splashed across the front pages and in primetime across all networks.

"It was a natural thing for us," Antoine de Caunes, French journalist and host of Canal Plus' nightly news magazine Le Grand Journal, told THR. "Canal Plus has a very strong history of irony and satire; [it's like] the DNA of the channel. So there was not a big meeting or talks if we should show it or not, we just did it. And to be honest, I think a good decision on that day would have been for every media [outlet] in the world to have shown the caricatures. It was the strongest statement we could make, absolutely."

For many broadcasters outside France, the issue of what to show was also one of safety. Speaking on CNN's decision not to show any of Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cartoons, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker last week said it was to ensure "the safety of our employees around the world."

"I understand that you may have reasons to be careful with American interests in the world and not set things on fire," said de Caunes, "but at some point you have to put up strong statements in front of these people. I think that they need to feel everyone is united against them, that the whole world is standing up against their barbarian behavior. It would be much more powerful." Citing the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of free speech, de Caunes noted the difference between what American and European television finds offensive.

"I don't understand how it works exactly, because I'm always very amazed that on American TV you can't say f. It's very strange for people in Europe to understand, and then at the same time you have the best satirists like Jon Stewart, and the best and most radical humor like Louis C.K. It's a very strange gap."...
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