Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

All About Ethics Blog

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo

Reprinting the Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

Rethinking News From Faith Perspectives

Center Senior Fellow in Journalism Ethics Sally Lehrman has a thoughtful piece in this month's Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, about how reporters and editors can take better account of the perspectives of people of faith when they cover a story like the shooting of journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. After a discussion of news outlets' decisions about whether to reprint the cartoons, Lehrman makes these recommendations for reporters:

  • Diversify your contact database to include people of a variety of non-majority faiths.
  • Ask questions that help you build empathy with your source’s perspective. How do you feel about this? What does it mean to you?
  • Ask yourself whether you can see yourself motivated by religion in the same way. If not, ask a religious person to explain how faith affects them.
  • If you are covering something that involves religious offense, consult experts to understand the root of that offense. Is it based in religious texts? Traditions? A sense of vulnerability because of political or social marginalization?

Lehrman directs the Center's work on Digital Journalism Ethics.


Subscribe to All About Ethics

* indicates required