SYNDICATED COLUMN: What’s With News Media Who Don’t Want to Publish News?

If a pizza shop refused to sell pizza, everyone would say it was run by crazy people.

What does it say about the people who run the news media that they don’t want to report news?

If you read on, you probably expect this lede to be revealed as hyperbole. Sorry, no. I mean it: newspaper editors and TV producers routinely come across delicious slices of news, and then decide not to publish them or put them on the air.

Yet nobody calls them what they are: censors.

Or crazy people.

News businesses constantly refuse to serve news to eager news consumers. Because censorship is normative, it rarely makes the news itself.

This week’s debate over whether to run photos of the body of a 3-year-old boy on a beach, a Syrian refugee boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey, is a revealing exception.

“As the photographs appeared again and again in timelines on Facebook and Twitter, spurred in part by their publication on the websites of major European newspapers, a debate broke out about the ethics of sharing such graphic images of a dead child,” Robert Mackey reported in The New York Times. “There were also disagreements inside newsrooms about whether to publish or even share the images. A number of reporters argued forcefully that it was necessary to confront the public with the human toll of the war in Syria, and the impact of policies that make it difficult for refugees to find asylum in Europe. But many editors were concerned about shocking their readers and wanted to avoid the appearance of trafficking in sensational images for profit.”

Debate? There should be no debate.

Newspapers sell news. When an editor decides whether an item ought to go into her newspaper, she ought to consider one question, and one question only:

Is it news?

If it’s news, it goes in. No matter what.

Clearly, Europe’s refugee crisis is news. Tens of thousands of people, many fleeing civil wars and poverty in north Africa and the Middle East, are escaping to Europe on rickety vessels, some of which founder and sink in the Mediterranean. The European Union can’t come up with a plan to deal with them. It’s a story involving big issues like nativism, xenophobia, racism and a vacuum of political leadership, as well as blowback from American and European foreign interventionism.

Though sentimental and perhaps a big mawkish, the heartbreaking photo of the drowned boy illustrates the human cost of Europe’s failure vis-à-vis the refugee crisis. Which makes it news.

So it should run.

Easy decision, really. So why are editors worried about irrelevant concerns, like whether the photo is “tasteful”?

For some editors, according to the Times, it came down to whether readers could see the boy’s face:

“Many news organizations in the United States decided to publish pictures of the dead child in their print or online editions, but they were divided over whether to show more graphic images of the boy lying in the sand with his face partially visible. The New York Times published a less jarring image that shows a Turkish police officer carrying the child away but conceals his face. Several other newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The Baltimore Sun, followed the same course of action.”

Thank you, Editor Nanny, but I’ll take my news the way God intended it: 200 proof, undiluted.

This is yet another case of a tiny good — respect for the dead — causing a big harm.

Hundreds of people, including that Syrian boy, are dying, and dying horribly. Their deaths are totally avoidable. The EU, home to hundreds of millions of people, can easily absorb even a million refugees. The U.S., whose foreign wars are in large part responsible for the crisis, can help subsidize resettlement costs, and invite many of the victims to come here.

Posting the more “jarring” image (which appeared all over the Internet anyway) might help jar the world into taking action. Conversely, not posting it delays action, guaranteeing that more little boys will die.

Surely saving those boys is more important than worrying making readers queasy over their morning cereal — yes, even if some of those readers are kids themselves.

“I understand the argument for running the photo as a way to raise awareness and call attention to the severity of the refugee crisis, and I don’t begrudge outlets that did,” commented Vox media editorial director Max Fisher, “but I ultimately I decided against running it because the child in that photo can’t consent to becoming a symbol.” Does this mean Vox won’t run any images of dead people, ever? Or images of people who don’t consent to being photographed? That’ll make Vox even more boring.

You know what’s worse than taking a chance that kids will see pictures of dead kids? Not taking that chance, so that more kids wind up dead.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)


37 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: What’s With News Media Who Don’t Want to Publish News?

  1. Strangely enough, Fox had no problem showing the deaths of 3000 people on 9/11. Over & over & over.

    Tasteless sensationalism? Or political agenda? They report, I deride.

  2. Ted,

    “This is yet another case of a tiny good — respect for the dead — causing a big harm.”

    It isn’t “respect for the dead” though. It’s the same reason people at the mainstream papers aren’t covering your story: The issue leads inexorably to unavoidable conclusions that are undesirable.

  3. “The European Union can’t come up with a plan to deal with them.”

    The EU DOES have a plan. The countries where they arrive (i.e., Greece and Italy) are responsible. No other countries have any responsibility whatsoever.

    But, thanks to the photo, the Angel of Germany announced that Germany would take 800,000.

    And the British PM has said he’ll think about the problem.

    Meanwhile, the counties between Greece and Germany have announced that they will not allow any refugees to enter or transit.

    And lots more will die.

    Europe and the US are happy to point out that they liberated Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya from terrible tyrants from whom the citizens had reason to flee, but now that those countries have been liberated, those trying to leave are NOT refugees, but just migrants looking for handouts, so there’s no need to show photos of dead children to make European or Americans feel bad, after they’ve done all they could possibly be expected to have done to help ‘those people’.


    Most of the press is appalling. The old was OK, so the UK government shut it down, and I don’t read the new

    A lot of the articles say that the Syrian government is much worse than ISIS, and if we’d just get rid of the evil regime and appoint a President who was born and educated in Saudi Arabia, he’d cleanse Syrian of all the non-Wahabbi filth such as Christians, Shi’a, and secular Sunni, after which the ISIS would have no reason to exist and would dissolve. We’d have to demand that they select a suitable sacrifice and name him as the murderer of the American and British victims so we could subject him to ‘enhanced interrogation’, obtain a full confession, and execute him, but I’m sure that the Wahbbi government and the former ISIS would be happy to comply.

    (Before they were ‘reformed’, the said that most Syrians support the government, and most of the deaths were from the anti-government forces, but the new and greatly improved agrees that almost all Syrians hate the evil regime which is responsible for every one of the 240,000 deaths, and the Syrians only join ISIS and al-Qaeda because the West refuses to eradicate the regime and let a proper government–Wahabbi, of course–take over. The fact that most members of ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria speak with non-Syrian accents can be easily overlooked by all newspapers that take their responsibilities seriously.)

    • “Hey, it’s not my fault people died – all I did was set the hotel on fire. It’s their own damn fault for being in hotel in the first place.”

    • Assad himself has said the reason he cannot win is of course because of all the foreign elements pouring over his borders. The Syrians are fighting for their sovereignty. And he must have most of their support since the nearly the whole world supports his enemies. How else could he persist? And really it is not a civil war at all if one side is full of foreigners.

  4. Wellll, isn’t the point Ted Rall is making here that the story and the pictures are news, relevant and important news, whether or not we agree that that the EU, or the US, have not only the moral imperative, but the money and resources to easily accommodate and meet the needs of millions of refugee immigrants?

    Personally, except for those countries running successful export economies like Germany, I would question whether the rest, including the US, trillions in debt already, having already mortgaged and sold their economic futures to lower cost labor countries, have the social, political, and economic wherewithal to make it work. In any event, there is the appearance that they do not, but the truth is much of these nation’s budgets is wasted, on redistribution of money to rich special interests, and corruption.

    • The news should be published in its entirety of course. And you are right that these systems are near collapse. I would say that, even as a nationalist myself, the moral imperative is regrettably there because Western foreign policy makes people flee their homelands. One cannot destroy people’s homes and then legitimately complain when they come running to his.

      • Unfortunately, as such economically mandated migrations have occurred in history, they are generally treated as INVASIONS, generally resulting in massive military die-offs (one side frequently more multiple than the other) on both sides of a border. Ultimately, all more regionally involved governments use this circumstance as a tool of population management.


  5. Ah, Socialism – let’s use a dead kid to prop up an agenda! Let’s see the bodies! Heck, I knew liberals were death-cultists but yeesh this is going too far even for you.

    • Did your dog eat your homework? Tell the class the defining characteristic which distinguishes Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism.

      If you want do discuss socio-economic theories, you first need to demonstrate that you know what they are.

      • Who appointed you teacher? Get off your high horse. Where’d you get this idea you’re some Grand Arbiter of the debate? “I demand you do certain things in order to be admitted to enter this discussion!” Authoritarian much? Ha

        Incidentally, do you really believe the “defining characteristic” is what matters most in the real world of competing ideologies? Do capitalism, communism, and socialism all work out the way they are supposed to in your textbooks? Answer the questions. Do your homework.

      • You & Flaming Ball Sac keep telling us how wonderful capitalism is and how terrible socialism is; but you don’t even understand what they are!

        How can you possibly hope to be taken seriousry?

        > do you really believe the “defining characteristic” is what matters most in the real world of competing ideologies?

        Why yes, yes I do. Please tell me, oh teacher – if the defining characteristic isn’t what distinguishes the three theories, then whatever does?

      • @ CrazyH –

        That’s what comes of trying to reason with a TROLL.

        You find yourself lost in a tangent that has nothing to do at all with the discourse that matters.

        If definitions aren’t clarified, the discussion is lost in limbo.

      • derlehrer,

        I’m sorry you think of me as a troll. We used to have good exchanges.

        You are quite right though: definitions must be clarified, and I’m happy to do so. A troll is one who just tries to provoke a negative reaction. Now, since I enjoy Ted’s work, I simply opine honestly for the most part and hope to find some agreement but will be alright if none is found.

  6. This is one of those “two things conflated as one” issues.

    First, you have the humanitarian crisis.
    Second, you have the problem of integration. Not the challenge, not the issue, the PROBLEM.

    Look at Kim Davis. She cannot be successfully integrated into modern American society because she is stuck back in 15th century Leviticus. Her (fourth) husband? He was quoted as saying that just because five Supreme Court judges say something is a law, doesn’t make it so. (Yeah, go back and read that previous sentence again, just to be sure you got it right.)

    We are confronted with two adults who, literally, don’t know enough about how their system of government works to be able to interact in it intelligently or competently. And that is dangerous to society. Why? Because society only functions when we all have the same set of understood agreements going on. And these people think that they know what’s going on, when, in reality, they literally have no idea at all.

    Immigration? Yes. I’m all for it.
    Immigration where you just drop the poor bastards in and, fingers crossed, they figure out what’s what before they get killed?

    It’s a two-way mechanism. You don’t just let someone in and then walk away.

    And think of what that would do for unemployment. “John, here’s your immigrant. He pretty much has no idea what he’s doing. You need to bring him up to speed. You’ll get paid $20 an hour to do this. Keep your receipts. If you learn his language, we increase it to $25 an hour.”

    • It seems that the EU has a better grip on the definition of “immigrant” than the US. So, what is a (pre-politically correct) immigrant? IT IS (ONLY) anyone — not from a host country — who has actually applied for and received permission from that host country to live as a resident in said host country. In other words, if they are not documented, THEN THEY ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS.

      Practicably, the word “undocumented immigrant” (as imposed in American culture) is an oxymoron. Technically, an illegal immigrant is a documented immigrant that has violated his(her) previously documented, immigration contract with a host country.

      Once the flawed standard of definitions is corrected, it is so much easier to determine who the real criminals are. Until his(her) trans-border relocation attempt(s) are acceptably documented, international criminal trespassers are just invaders who may also be dragging along (either already born, or in their ball-sacks[ovaries]) some “cute” progeny.


      • Do notice, in the EU, if its members talk about an invading and undocumented economic/refugee population lawlessly slipping across its borders from the south, the member states generously call them MIGRANTS. The less liberal of that same economic union identify their functional wetbacks as criminal invaders, and rightfully so.

        derl, your reference to Wikipedia is much like somebody referring to the Old Testament as a document of historically verified facts, it just ain’t so.

        The Wiki propaganda piece you posted above conflates MIGRATION with IM-MIGRATION. While an immigrant is in fact a legal migrant, of all the people who migrate (all over the world), only a small fraction are also lawful immigrants. The key difference between a migrant and an immigrant IS THE DOCUMENTATION.

        At least that is the way it used to be before the US MSM corporate propaganda tyrants of “no-borders” free trade started having their corporate media whores start euphemizing undocumented migrants (remember Caesar Chavez? he did some great work representing North America’s legal migrants — or at least the ones who were documented as such –who were working in the California farm market) as some kind of “undocumented” immigrant.

        Let me ask you a simple question, what’s the difference between an undocumented tourist and an undocumented “immigrant?” To even be a tourist in the United States, YOU MUST STILL BE DOCUMENTED. At the least, a tourist must have a passport with a proper authorization stamped within it at an officially designated location of entry. Even if the border-crasher has a passport, without that appropriate authorization, no MF’n bitch can be called a tourist. Or would you simply call him/her/it an “undocumented tourist?” No such animal, and it’s not even an issue.

        Simply because some wetback (to reach America, you usually got to cross a body of water somewhere. Since I’m in California, most of our wetbacks come from Mexico) got a coyote travel agent to sneak him/her across the border? Or maybe you consider some motherfucker with counterfeit documents as somehow being acceptably identified as somebody you wouldn’t mind hanging around your children’s playground ~

        Also, if I ever tried using Wikipedia even in any community college classroom (or even just high school), the professor would unceremoniously flunk me. Among America’s educators, Wikipedia is garbage. Maybe you would like to try again?


      • @Dan – so, did you take the citizenship test at Ellis Island? Or did you receive your citizenship simply because you were born here?

        Have you traced back your family tree? Do you know whether each and every one of your ancestors took the test? Or were they undocumented immigrants as well?

        Where’s YOUR documentation, wetback? I’m not talking about your voter ID, I mean the exact, same, type of documentation you want your neighbors to have.

      • @ CrazyH –

        Thanks for taking care of the light-weight for me. I appreciate it because I don’t talk to TROLLs. 🙂

        One would think that a simple mind would need only a simplified source for clarification. Oxford Dictionaries might prove too difficult:

        [That page renders an easily understood definition, and also makes mention of *illegal immigrants*! It’s too bad I can’t respond directly, or I’d say: GOTCHA!]


      • @derlehrer

        I don’t consider Dan a troll – I consider him a decent guy with a blind spot about people who are different. The *only* time I smack him around is when he posts about his prejudices.

      • @ CrazyH –

        I have different standards.

        Any time someone posts a remark that is detrimental to intelligent discourse or that distracts from the discussion at hand — and also needs a gazillion paragraphs to do so — is, in my book, a TROLL and deserves to be ignored.

        I have only three on my list, and DanD is one of them. It’s worthless to attempt to engage in intelligent discourse with him or the other two, in my estimation.


      • ‘Well Crazy-H,

        My documentation is an authentic birth certificate provided by administrators at the USAFB called Barksdale in Louisiana. I also still possess a string of passports (both cancelled and active) starting from my senior year of high school to the current date. My DD-form 214 establishes that I’m an honorably discharged NCO. I am as American as Chop Suey.

        My father was born in Alabama and my mother sprung from her mother in Shreveport. They also have birth certificates and passports verifying as much. A while back further, I originated from a clan in Ireland, from which many of us White-niggers came pouring in on British ships (as “indentured” servants) to fight in America’s revolutionary AND civil wars. Documents of proof regarding that statement are located in one of my cousin’s SDB in Georgia. (In America, slaves started out as property, but ultimately became residents of the U.S. A little further down the road, they were eventually granted citizenship. White slavery was so much easier to escape from.)

        You’re right, I didn’t need to “test” for citizenship, I was born to that right. Even so, I don’t know why you even go there. As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years (even on this blog), my problem regarding migration is not with ANYBODY of ANY race or ethnicity that has received government permission to live in the United States, my distaste only encompasses the perps of economic exploitation and criminal invasion. In California, thoughs kind look mostly Mexican, because that’s were most of them are coming from for all along the Left Coast.

        As far as derl is concerned, the link he refers to still only focuses on those who got documented, and does not deal to any great extent with any covertly infiltrating class of foreign nationals. Summarily, his argument isn’t even relevant.

        Any way Crazy-H, thank you for not smacking me around too much.


      • @DanD –

        “As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years (even on this blog), my problem regarding migration is not with ANYBODY of ANY race or ethnicity ”

        In your post above you referred to ‘wetback’ and ‘south’ and you have a history of making prejudicial posts. I conclude that you do indeed have problems with race and ethnicity despite claims to the contrary.

      • @ CrazyH –

        I completely agree.

        Not only that, but also his reading comprehension skills are lacking (or perhaps he engages in the methodology of Dick Cheney and prefers to ignore the verifiable truth and advocate a lie). The link I provided makes absolutely no reference to documentation but merely to transition from one country to another. It’s there for any and all to examine, as well as the existence of numerous other sites available with a simple Google search, none of which suggest that legal documentation is a requirement for “immigration.” He would impose his own personal definition and expect everybody to accept his personal bias. Pathetic!

      • Yeah, I write about “wetbacks” from the south (and not the South, which is a different — but not really — issue), I’ve also referred about “wetbacks” from the West (Far East, e.g. China), because of geographical realities, most of America’s wetbacks come from the south, and even those from the East (hey, the “dirtier” parts of Europe who go rowing across the Atlantic … ).

        Tell me anyway, what “race” is a Mexican? Why are there virtually never any middle-class Mexicans trying to “wetback” it across White-man America’s southern border? Oh that’s right, they do have money … if they want to cross the border, they simply do it legally. I have no problem with middle-class Mexicans, or Costa Ricans, or Guatamalans, except when they bring their own brand of economic crimes with them ~

        Criminals all have a racial reality about them. The racial reality of America’s Republican Party crooks is that they are mostly “White (Caucasoid, Anglo, etc)” people. Yet, the majority of White folks in America are not Republicans. Instead, they belong to a different corporate crime family, like Democrats. When I kvetch about the pastey-White perversions of the Repug crowd, is it racist? Maybe. Is it a response to White racism? Most probably.

        It seems CH, that you believe that Mexicans, or Chinese, Or “Black” Americans are predisposed against racism. Anybody feeling that way does not know what they’re talking about. Humans will never purge themselves of racist sentiment by attempting to prohibit the use of “racist” terminology.

        The most racist culture on Earth is Jewish. Straight out of the womb, Jews are taught that they are a “Special-Chosen” kind of race. Their own historic document of cultural self-identification proclaims that all non-Jews are lesser humans and therefore, deserve by divine proclamation to be treated less-than-human.

        So, if “wetbacks” from the “south” are brown (which is not really a precise racial identity), what are wetbacks from the north (you know, across from the Great Lakes and such)? Of course, “White” people really aren’t white, but are what’s called real-high-yellow, light-tan, or sometimes “pink.” There are even some British still who consider the Irish as a different “race” than themselves.

        Also, let’s keep calling it the “n-word,” because simply saying the word nigger might hurt their (whoever “they” are) feelings too much. It also gives them a pet-name that they can continue to call themselves. So much shit. Meanwhile, the not-too-secret agenda of politically-correct oppression runs rampant.

        Even you CH, are only selective in your own political correctness, as are we all. Who has the most correct recipe?


      • Why bother DanD? Nuance sails over their heads. They object simply to your non-PC language.

        And of course they recognize only racism from whites because only the “oppressor” class could possibly be racist. No, that’s what they really believe. The same way only men can be sexist.

      • Um, CH;

        Did you even read the link you provided?
        Urban Dictionary:
        “Wetback is a derogatory term used to describe Mexicans who have immigrated illegally to the United States by swimming or wading across the Rio Grande–the river that separates the U.S. from Mexico. U.S. Border Patrol began using the word in 1944 to refer to illegal Mexican immigrants who were easily identifiable by their wet clothing.
        In 1954, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service made the word “wetback” official by naming the mission to remove illegal immigrants from the United States, Operation Wetback . In response to the increase of immigrants during the early 1950s, the agency developed the program to force immigrants (particularly Mexicans) back to their home countries. Aproximately one million Mexican Americans were deported in one year.

        Today the term “wetback” is often used to express animosity towards Central American or Latin American immigrants–legal and illegal–who do not speak English. Meanwhile, in an attempt to reclaim the word, some Mexican-Americans call themselves Los Mojados, meaning “the wet ones.”

        So, we’re “bigots?” Tell me, when displaying animosity towards a criminal class of international invaders, where do you get off calling it bigotry? The word “wetback” was specifically composed by our own government (as your link clearly defines) to identify CRIMINALS.

        When I use the word wetback, I have expanded its application to ALL criminal border-crashers regardless of which border (north, south, east, or west) they violated. Such a definition encompasses ALL RACES. So, the wetbacks that I’m predisposed to have an all-encompassing animosity towards can be white, black, or brown (there really is no “yellow” race).

        Now, since the international border I live closest to is adjacent to Mexico, most of the wetbacks I have no great respect for are either from South, Central, or the southern tip of North America (Mexico is part of North America). Now, while most of these reprobate criminal migrants are predominately brown, they are yet not always. In any event, almost without exception, it’s the fairer-skinned Mexicans of that country’s upper middle-class that are pushing their own brownest, dirt/trash poorest co-citizens to try escaping north of the border. The Mexican Government has even initiated programs to advance this economically assaulting program of migrant invasion. This is how they (Mexico’s oligarchs) define “tax-relief” (or perhaps, covertly initiated foreign aid).

        As it is, you think I should be welcoming this South-of-the-Border, welfare wave of invasive flotsam with open arms? I’m not that altruistic.

        Now, if only they changed the words illegal “immigrant” for unlawful migrant, then the matter at hand would not be so misconstrued. Instead, it would be so much more accurately perceived.

        Since undocumented border-crashers never even attempt to initiate an immigration case for themselves to actually become legal migrants before they wetback it, America’s immigration services shouldn’t even be involved with tossing them criminal bitches BACK across the border. Instead, it should be processed as a simple law-enforcement issue. I would much rather the hundreds-of-millions of dollars going to maintaining the living standards of unlawful migrants to instead be reassigned to homeless Veterans.

        Meanwhile, you really need to not let your PC rule over you so mindlessly.


      • @ CrazyH –

        I’m laughing my ass off!

        Your link (which the TROLL has quoted without reserve) mentions “immigrated illegally” and “illegal Mexican immigrants” along with four other similar references, in conformity with the commonly-accepted use of the term.

        The language has been high-jacked, Friend. We have to do something about it!

        😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

      • Oh, I should have added that my definition of any word in the English has priority over all others. Why? Because I say so, that’s why.