Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fundamentalism is Not Restricted to Religious Fundamentalists

Recently, the Jewish Standard, a newspaper of the Bergen County (NJ) Jewish community, printed a wedding announcement for a same-sex couple.  There was an outcry by the Orthodox rabbinate, and the paper cowardly relented and announced that it would no longer publish such announcements.  This policy was met with a vociferous outcry from the community and comments on the newspaper’s blog were overwhelmingly negative about the restrictive and discriminatory policy.  The Standard is now in the process of reconsidering its policy.

Now, the same discrimination has come to a secular newspaper.  The Manchester Union Leader has announced that it will not publish wedding announcements for same-sex couples, even though New Hampshire is one of a handful of states with full marriage equality.  The rationale is that the paper is against New Hampshire’s marriage law, and to publish such wedding announcements would be against editorial policy.

The Union Leader has served the citizens of New Hampshire for almost 150 years, but this policy is a blunder.  For a newspaper to be credible, it must separate its editorial policy from its responsibilities as a news organization.  The newspaper has historically been one of the leading voices of conservative journalism, but this policy of blatant discrimination is a black mark on whatever journalistic integrity it had.  Any newspaper has the right to print or not print whatever its publisher desires.  But legitimate newspapers, especially ones that dominate a state’s circulation, have a moral responsibility to print the news without discrimination.  Today, the citizens of New Hampshire are ill-served by their state’s largest newspaper.

1 comment:

  1. You are correct that a newspaper has the right to print what it wants. You are incorrect to chracterize a paid wedding announcement, gay or otherwise, as news. It is an advertisement.

    What puzzles me is that, rather than attacking their judgment, you attack their "credibility" and "integrity". I would think "walking the walk" would be a sign of integrity, however misguided it might be.

    Having said that, I agree with you that they should print the notices. A newspaper should accept advertising unless it is offensive to their readership, not their editorial board.

    Under this guideline, the Jewish Standard decision is less clear cut. I don't doubt a significant portion of its readership is offended by these notices. You say the Standard is "reconsidering". I guess it will come down to, as it usually does, whichever side makes the most noise.