To censor or not, that is the question

Reporters and editors have to make some difficult decisions at times, and for those of us who aren’t the Trentonian, it gets a bit more complicated than what synonym for “evil” to use to describe Saddam Hussein in a headline.

On one hand, we had Eason Jordan’s, CNN’s chief news executive, confessing of all of the information his company held back while covering Iraq for various reasons. Sometimes it was to protect employees and sources from reprisal from the Iraqi government and especially the Hussein family, other times it was to prevent sensitive military information from leaking (i.e. Geraldo). There were even times when it was as simple as not burning one’s bridges, because is it worth getting one good story if you get kicked out of Iraq for it?

Then there was the story of the Eastside Journal in Washington State, now called the King County Journal, which collaborated with local detectives to catch a murderer. The paper agreed to run a fake arson story to trick him into thinking his accomplice carried out his plans.

These are not easy situations, although I would disagree with the Journal’s editor, Tom Wolfe, in what a newspaper’s true “responsibility to the community” is – reporting the news truthfully, not working with the police department. Who will gather truthful information if journalists can’t be trusted to do it?

The Signal has not been without its share of tough decisions. Recently, we held a story on ROTC participants serving overseas because of conflicting information about whether or not there actually were any. And while we didn’t hold a story on hightened security for Salman Rushdie, we did decide to move it off of the front page to focus less on his being a possible target, and more on his writings. Decisions we stand by, but that weren’t without their share of arguments.

Editorials are those of the Editorial Board, which is composed of the Editor-in-chief, the Managing Editor, the Senior Editor and the Opinions Editor.