Archived Story

Phillipson: We should blame the messenger

Published 6:55pm Sunday, September 12, 2010

The media exploited the antics of a clown from Florida who is all but standing on his head to attract attention.

The so-called “pastor” of a small denomination in that state has threatened to desecrate the Koran by burning 200 copies of the Holy Book of the Muslim religion.

He deliberately announced his intention to the media well knowing the probable effects.

First, anyone who knows that he may cause death or mayhem by committing an act deliberately should be criminally responsible.

Anyone who cries “fire” in a theater would be arrested immediately.

Pastor Jones knows that deaths will result if he carries out his threats.

Second, prior to the U. S. Civil War journalists thought it was bad taste to publish tales of murder and rape and other horrors.

Since then the media, knowing that yellow journalism pays, have exploited the baser instincts of the public by exploiting every tale of woe and disaster that may be available to them.

We know, however, much we may want it, the media will not change its ways overnight.
Our Constitution guarantees that right on the firm idea that information should not be restricted or hampered.

On the other hand, incidents do occur where the reaction of the public will be adverse and causes that do not deserve publicity will receive them.

As City Attorney and as Prosecutor I have requested that the local newspaper refrain from exploiting such an event.

When I have been right, the press agreed with me and complied with my request.

As years pass we have wandered farther from that kind of responsibility.

It is time that the media, print, radio and television, adopt a code of ethics that considers the effects of the story they are publishing.

In reporting, the media has contributed to expected harm to our valiant men and women serving our country.

The story has already caused a death in a riot in Afghanistan.

Further harm can be expected as a direct result of the publicizing in our media of the crazy antics of a deranged pastor in Florida.

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