News Value, Islamophobia, or the First Amendment? Why and How the Philadelphia Inquirer Published the Danish Cartoons
Robert A. Kahn
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-07
The typical framing of the United States in the Danish cartoon controversy is driven by the refusal of most papers to republish the cartoons. On this view, American journalists, unlike their European counterparts, focused narrowly on the cartoons' "news value" which -- even at the papers that published the cartoons -- ruled out the anti-Muslim stereotypes that accompanied the running of the cartoons in Denmark and Europe.
This paper puts this frame to the test by looking at the debate that unfolded after the Philadelphia Inquirer ran the turban cartoon. While editor Amanda Bennett defended her decision as "what newspapers do," a detailed review of the articles that ran in the paper, the letters the paper received, and Bennett's own justification of her actions suggest the debate was much broader than the news value paradigm suggests. In particular, the debate had an Islamophobic edge reinforced by the failure of the Inquirer to discuss the initial framing of the cartoons in Denmark. This suggests that the image of the United States as narrowly focused on news value needs revision.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Freedom of Speech, News Media, Danish Cartoon Controversy, Islamophobic, Freedom of Press, Law and Journalism, Hate Speech
Date posted: February 9, 2010